‘This is unacceptable’: Abbott declares ERCOT reform an emergency item for legislature, wants investigation of agency

Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday declared the reform of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas an emergency item for the upcoming 2021 legislative session.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday declared the reform of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas an emergency item for the upcoming 2021 legislative session.

“The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours,” Abbott said in a statement Tuesday. “Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable.”

The declaration comes after a massive winter storm caused millions in the state to lose power for large periods of time during subzero temperatures.

Abbott said he wants to “ensure Texans never again experience power outages on the scale they have seen over the past several days,” according to a statement from his office.

“Reviewing the preparations and decisions by ERCOT is an emergency item so we can get a full picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions,” Abbott said in the statement. “I thank my partners in the House and Senate for acting quickly on this challenge, and I will work with them to enhance Texas’ electric grid and ensure that our state never experiences power outages like this again.”

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan requested that two House committees, the House State Affairs and Energy Resources Committees, hold a joint hearing to review the operations of the state’s power grid that led to sustained power outages.

“We must cut through the finger-pointing and hear directly from stakeholders about the factors that contributed to generation staying down at a time when families needed it most, what our state can do to correct these issues and what steps regulators and grid operators are taking to safeguard our electric grid,” Phelan said in a statement.

Later Tuesday, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick also expressed his concerns over ERCOT’s handling of the power outages, announcing that the Senate Business & Commerce committee would move forward with hearings to assess the ERCOT’s operations.

“I share the frustration of ever Texan regarding the loss of power during this winter storm,” Patrick said in a statement. Millions of people without power during this arctic blast is life-threatening and unacceptable. We must get to the bottom of this to be sure we are better prepared even if an unprecedented weather event happened again.”


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About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team as a community associate producer in 2019. During her time in H-Town, she's covered everything from fancy Houston homes to tropical storms. Previously, she worked at Austin Monthly Magazine and KAGS TV, where she earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for her work as a digital producer.