Governor: Texas power grid ready for winter storm; drivers should use great caution on treacherous roads

99% of power generators fully operational, Abbott says
Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 1:05 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday reassured Texans the state’s power grid is ready to meet the demands for electricity during this week’s winter storm, said multiple state agencies are mobilizing ahead of the storm and warned drivers about treacherous roadways that “could put your life in danger.”

“We have a very substantial winter storm that will come into Texas and remain with us for the rest of the week,” the governor said during a news conference with multiple agency leaders. Abbott said the state has prepared for this moment for nearly a year.

According to the Associated Press, a major winter storm is expected to affect a huge swath of the United States, with heavy snow starting in the Rockies and freezing rain as far south as Texas before it drops snow and ice on the Midwest.

The forecast comes nearly a year after a catastrophic winter storm devastated Texas’ power grid, causing hundreds of deaths. The forecast this week, however, does not call for prolonged, widespread frigid temperatures like the February 2021 storm that crippled the Lone Star State. Winter storm watches and warnings, however, covered a wide swath of the country from El Paso, Texas, through the Midwest and up north into Vermont.

Abbott said the State of Texas is utilizing every applicable state agency to make sure the state will “robustly respond” to the “extreme, cold winter storm that is going to be sweeping across Texas.” Some of the agencies who will work together during the storm are the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, Texas Railroad Commission, Public Utilities Commission, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Military Department, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Abbott said the Public Utilities Commission has already held several meetings with utility companies to work on winter preparation, including a multi-month long process of inspecting all of the power generators in Texas.

“At least 99 percent, if not more, of the power generators in the State of Texas have passed inspection or fully operational,” the governor said. “They are already bringing more (power) generation online sooner than what happened last year.”

Abbott reminded Texans they could lose power during the upcoming winter storm and that it could be for a variety of reasons having nothing to do with ERCOT’s management of the power grid. “It could mean that power lines are down, power lines that belong to the companies that customers enter into contract with. Those power lines could go down because a tree falls on a power line and those power lines are no longer able to deliver power to a home.”

Abbott said it is possible ice will cause some power lines to go down during the winter storm. “That doesn’t mean there are challenges with the power grid in Texas, it means that for a short period of time a neighborhood could be without power,” the governor said.

According to the governor, ERCOT estimates the highest demand for electricity in Texas during the winter storm will be Friday morning. “Right now, the prognostication is that ERCOT will have an excess of 15-thousand megawatts of power available even at the time of highest demand. So ERCOT is well prepared for conditions as they currently stand but remains flexible in order to be responsive to power demand needs.”

The Texas Railroad Commission, Abbott said, has been working with local gas distribution companies, major gas producers and pipeline operators. Abbott said all are prepared for the storm and “do not anticipate any significant operational challenges.”

The governor said TxDOT is already treating thousands of miles of roadways in anticipation of freezing rain, sleet, snow and ice that will make driving conditions treacherous for millions across the state. “There will be thousands upon thousands of miles of road that will be extraordinarily dangerous,” Abbott said, “There will be road conditions that could put your life in danger. So we urge our fellow Texans to proceed with great caution.”

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