Feb 17, 2021
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Press Conference Transcript on Winter Storm, Power Outages February 17
Texas Governor Greg Abbott held a February 17 news briefing & update on the winter events in Texas. He gave updates on power outages, broken pipes, generators, water supplies & state efforts to keep residents safe. Read the full transcript here.
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Governor Abbott: (00:32)
Thank you all for being with us. We were scheduled to be out here earlier, however we’ve been in about a two hour meeting discussing and assembling the information that we want to convey to the public. What we’re going to share with you is going to be a lot of detailed information that answers or tries to answer a lot of questions that the public has about both what is going on, where we’re going, next steps in response to this winter storm. Let me start with this. First is some weather that can be expected over the coming days. The initial and the main storm that has caused the severe damage in Texas is now beginning to move out of the state of Texas. Snow and sleet in Northeast Texas will continue to exist, but also gradually move out over the next six hours.
Governor Abbott: (01:29)
After that, another round of precipitation will be coming across the state over the next 24 hours. Most of that precipitation will be in the Southern part of the state, mostly around I-10 and south, maybe reaching as far north as the Austin area. Probably not going much further north than the Austin area. Cold temperatures will remain across much of the state for the next few days. Most of the state will be below freezing tomorrow morning. Along I-10 and north will remain freezing through Thursday night with ultra cold temperatures, once again, on Thursday night. We should across the state start getting above freezing on Saturday. Many transportation issues across the state on roadways in every region will remain challenging for the next few days.
Governor Abbott: (02:41)
Next is a report from the Public Utilities Commission with regard to power. Since midnight this past night, since 12:01 AM this morning, 6,000 megawatts have been added to the Texas grid. That equals about power for about 1.2 million households. Several things have assisted in this. One of the power outages in the state was the nuclear plant project, the STMP, South Texas Nuclear Plant Project, as well as coal power, generated power, were shut down. Let me say it this way. In addition to the 1.2 million households that have had power restored already, there will be additional onboarding that will be coming from the South Texas Nuclear Project, which should begin operations early this morning and will complete operations tonight. And then additional operations will increase from coal produced power that will add more than 2,000 megawatts, which will provide additional power for about 400,000 homes in addition to the 1.2 million that I was talking about earlier.
Governor Abbott: (04:12)
In addition to that, there are various small, natural gas generators that are currently going on and off. They should sporadically add about 3,000 megawatts over the next 24 hours, and that would equate to about 600,000 homes. As of this time, there continues to be problems with natural gas fired generators, as well as wind generation. About 19,800 megawatts of gas powered generation is still offline because of either mechanical issues or the lack of the supply of gas for those gas generators to produce power. 17,200 megawatts of renewable generated power remain out either because of freezing of the wind or because of lack of sun for the solar. I’m about to tell you a way in which we will be adding more power to our system.
Governor Abbott: (05:39)
Some natural gas produced in Texas is currently being shipped to locations outside of the state. I have earlier today issued an order effective today through February the 21st requiring those producers that have been shipping to locations outside of Texas to instead sell that natural gas to Texas power generators. That will also increase the power that’s going to be produced and sent to homes here in Texas. That will increase the ability of gas powered generators in Texas to increase power sent to the Texas power grid. Through multiple phone calls and actions, the White House has assisted Texas with orders that allow additional power generation or have accelerated the nuclear plant restoration.
Governor Abbott: (06:41)
Also, another issue that I will be coming to here shortly is talking-
Governor Abbott: (08:28)
… the Public Utilities Commission. Those include, for the most part, Encore, Center Point Energy, AEP and Texas New Mexico Power. And an order has been made to ensure that everybody that is subject to regulation by the PUC will have access to power on at least a rotating basis during the remaining time period until power is fully up and running.
Governor Abbott: (09:04)
We have some more information to cover, but I want to let you know, a couple of topics that will be coming up that will be addressed by other people at the table. A broad category is the emergency response efforts to help Texans in need at this time, and that will be addressed by Chief Nim Kidd of the Texas Division of Emergency Management. Another is, in many regions across Texas there are increasing challenges with regard to water quality. They will be addressed by Toby Becker, the Executive Director for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Governor Abbott: (09:45)
I want to address an issue that some Texans are already beginning to deal with, but many Texans will be having to deal with here in the coming days that I want to make sure that we start discussing right now, and that is the results of busted pipes. Many people have already experienced busted pipes, so they’ve had their homes, or apartments, or other locations already filled up with water. So let’s talk about what can be done and where we’re going with it.
Governor Abbott: (10:17)
One thing that you want to do if you have a busted pipe or to prevent the consequences of a busted pipe is consider turning off your water supply. If you are a homeowner, there should be a location, typically outside, maybe near the curbside, where you have the ability to physically turn off the water supply to your house. Now, obviously that will eliminate water supply to your house. You can turn it off at the time of your choosing. If you do not turn it off, one thing that could happen is that when power does come back onto your house or when, just because the outside temperature begins to warm up, there will come a point in time when the ice frozen in your pipes will begin to melt and the busted pipe will suddenly start spewing water throughout your house, maybe in multiple locations. One way to slow down that water flooding into your house is by taking that action in advance to turn off your water.
Governor Abbott: (11:18)
I also urge all homeowners to, as quickly as possible, like as in beginning now if you haven’t already done so, begin to work with a plumber. Get plumbers lined up and work with your insurance company in advance. If you’re a homeowner, you should have homeowner’s insurance that would address this. Talk to your agent today, tonight, tomorrow, immediately. If you are a renter, most renters are required to have renter’s insurance. Talk to your rental insurance, as well as your landlord, immediately about what to do and how to address this. If you live in a location that is-
Gov. Abbott: (12:03)
If you live in a location that is not covered by insurance, you may have the possibility of getting assistance from FEMA. As you know, I requested a federal disaster declaration, and that was granted. One thing that comes along that is FEMA assistance. Part of that FEMA assistance goes to what’s called public assistance that works on the rebuilding of large municipal and governmental based facilities. Another component would be individual assistance. In order to qualify for individual assistance, there are certain dollar metrics that must be met before a location qualifies. So, what we need homeowners to do is, if you are without insurance, if you live in a region where you may be covered by FEMA, we need everyone to keep receipts of any costs that you have incurred as a result of any type of repair to your property that is needed as a consequence of this winter storm. Along these lines also, Texas law already authorizes the plumbing board to give provisional licenses to out of state plumbers.
Gov. Abbott: (13:18)
And we are urging that that take place and also working with the board of plumbing examiners to make sure that that will happen with regard to that authorization. In fact, I am going to be issuing a waiver for plumbers if they are previously licensed as a plumber, but haven’t completed continuing education in the last two years. You will be allowed to provide for a plumbers license to assist with those who have been affected by the winter storm. The goal obviously is we’re trying to make sure that we will have as many plumbers available as possible to help everybody deal with their plumbing challenges. Similarly and relatedly, Texas law also provides insurance adjusters out of state can get a temporary license to do adjusting for disaster claims. That’s important because we do expect a lot of people in Texas to have disaster claims, whether it be with your home because of damages that could occur to your home or to your rental property, or because of a car accident, et cetera.
Gov. Abbott: (14:45)
So, we are urging the insurance businesses in Texas to bring in as many insurance adjusters from across the state as possible. Also, I mentioned something that Chief Nim Kidd with the Texas Division of Emergency Management will expand upon shortly. But the Division of Emergency Management is already working with VOAD as well as faith based organizations to help homeowners repair their homes. Many of you will recall this process for people who were affected by Hurricane Harvey, and we brought those same organizations in to help people muck out their homes and repair their homes. And the Texas Division of Emergency Management was involved in lining up all those people to assist in that repair process. We’re already beginning to line up those people, and so you may be wondering, well, how can you get a hold of somebody who can be connected with a VOAD or a faith based organization who can assist you? And the answer is you can call your local office of emergency management organizations either with the county or city that you live in. It just depends on where you happen to reside.
Gov. Abbott: (16:07)
One other thing on my part then I’ll turn over to Nim Kidd, and Chief Kidd will also touch upon this a little bit. So, the primary component of the Texas Military Division is The National Guard. And we’re very thankful to The National Guard in the role they played and continue to play in assisting the state and our people in responding to this winter storm. The National Guard is assisting with regard to warming centers across the state that Chief Kidd will talk more about. They are also assisting with regard to roadways and providing air crews for a variety of different efforts to make sure that we are better able as a state to address this challenge. But details about that, as well as so many other issues will be provided to you by the next speaker, Chief Nim Kidd, the chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
Chief Nim Kidd: (17:02)
Thank you, Governor. The list that I will go through is very detailed, but it is not exhaustive. This does not cover any of the great work being done by our local partners and some of the state agencies, I will not cover here today. But, Governor, I think I need to take a second first to thank the men and the women in this room that had been working around the clock, their families that are at home going through the same experiences that most Texans are going through right now. And so I want to thank them very quickly.
Gov. Abbott: (17:29)
We appreciate them.
Chief Nim Kidd: (17:30)
Start with the Texas Department of Transportation. All 25 districts across Texas are still impacted. They have over 4,500 TxDOT employees out on the roads right now operating over 740 snowplows. Another 225 motor graders all working to deice the interstate system and keep the network up and running.
Chief Nim Kidd: (17:49)
There are over 5,200 road sections that are still affected by this with 37 closures. They’re working very closely with the Forest Service, county commissioners, construction contractors, and renting every piece of equipment they can find to help keep the roads open. I think one of the most important jobs that they have right now is prioritizing and clearing routes to critical infrastructure, and coordinating with local governments for access to hospitals, working with the public utility commission to make sure that the power plants are still up and running and access to them, and working with our fuel vendor. Transition to the men and women of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Over 3,300 troopers on the road around the clock responding to over 1,600 crashes that they investigate. Again, that does not count our local government law enforcement agencies and county sheriffs that are out there working, DPS supporting them, supporting the Division of Emergency Management parks and wildlife.
Chief Nim Kidd: (18:40)
I’ll tell you, in addition to roadside assistance, investigating crashes and supporting other local law enforcement, department of public safety troopers have delivered blood to hospitals, they’ve delivered fuel to power plants, they’ve relocated residents from nursing homes and provided additional fuel to first responders. You heard a little bit about the Texas Military Department and their personnel that are working not only to assist people that are stranded on the roads, but personnel available to assist in supporting the warming centers, and I’ll go over that list here in just a minute. Working with an air operation center, as soon as it is safe to start flying, we’ll be flying resources all across the state, and working to find all available generators that may be supporting any military operation that can be pushed out into the field to support civilian operations. Texas Military Department will bring on additional aircraft, C-130s and helicopters to be able to fly water, cots, blankets and whatever we need into places that are still hampered by the state’s transportation network.
Chief Nim Kidd: (19:39)
Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens and state police officers are out on the streets also supporting DPS. Over 430 game wardens and 90 park police officers, all in four wheel drive vehicles, they’re helping move people around as well. Game wardens have assisted numerous calls from services ranging from delivery of blankets to answering calls for local law enforcement and welfare checks. Yesterday, the Abilene game wardens were requested to deliver supplies to Reynolds County for the blackouts. They delivered blankets, cots, and other warming supplies. In addition, game wardens in Gonzales County worked with Seguin Electric to hook up the generator at the children’s home. I’m not sure how many game wardens are out there that are certified licensed electricians, but I’m certainly thankful for working the work that they do with our local electric companies to get this done and deliver these life-saving materials and supplies. They’re going and picking up extension cords and moving generators and fuel around everywhere that they can. Texas A&M Forest Service also supporting local agencies, including the Department of Transportation. Crews working in The panhandle all over the state with motor graders, four wheel drive vehicles.
Chief Nim Kidd: (20:46)
A lot of the things that we use to put fire out with and forest fires are also clearing roads right now. So, pure integration between the state agencies. Personnel all over the state, Zapata County to Galveston County, up into The Panhandle, Nacogdoches, saw crews are available to start clearing some of the access to critical infrastructure. As trees have fallen, we want to make sure those trees are out of the way. Panhandle branch of the A&M Forest Service is blading interstates and highways working together, removing a patrol over 1,200 miles of tier two and tier three roads. So, not the main interstate system, but trying to keep our county roads open as well. Winter weather operations in Kimble and Kerr, Menard counties, along with the San Angelo District clearing jackknife. So, the Forest Service firefighters are out there clearing roads as well, just like raker drivers. The Abilene brand as well, working with the incident management teams to support the City of Coleman and County for resources and get additional generators and power to them.
Chief Nim Kidd: (21:45)
I could go on for about five days on the other counties that they’re working on, but I’ll skip through. A lot of engine company work out there to make sure that as soon as water becomes available, we set up points of distribution operations, and we’ll continue to support our local government partners. I told you about our mass care warming sites. If you remember, day one, we had about 30 warming centers, then we went up to 100, now we’re up to little over 300 warming centers. They’re broken down across all areas of the state. A lot of them are supported by local government, VOADs, as the governor mentioned. We’ll put additional resources in there as we need to make sure that there’s drinking water, cots, blankets. If you’re looking for a place where a warming center is, and you have an internet connection, you can go to tdem T-D-E-M .texas. gov/warm.
Chief Nim Kidd: (22:32)
Or if you have a telephone, you can call 211. 211 Texas has the list of all 298 warming centers that are out there right now. We will continue to work with our local government partners to add additional warming centers as required. The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service continues to port our resource staging areas all across the state. We’re working with AT&T, the telephone company, to help refuel their cell towers and generators to keep our cell system up and running.
Chief Nim Kidd: (23:02)
During COVID, Governor, we created something called the Pony Express, where we were using all of the A&M agencies to move PPE and testing materials around. Pony Express is still working for this event. They’ve transported essential workers to hospitals and assisting living centers and power companies, and also supplies to the warming centers. The Department of State Health Services is working with our hospitals across the state. There’s a lot of water main breaks that are causing problems for our hospitals. We’ll continue to resource as much water for them as we can, as well as oxygen cylinders. We’re hearing some oxygen shortages that are out there, so we continue to work with our private sector partners, as well as our federal partners to bring in additional oxygen.
Chief Nim Kidd: (23:45)
We’re working with our long-term care facilities and the dialysis centers. Dialysis is a very important network that we need to continue to work. It requires a lot of electricity and a lot of water. So, we’re moving through our emergency medical task force, moving people that need dialysis to places where dialysis can be delivered.
Chief Nim Kidd: (24:02)
… People that need dialysis to places where dialysis can be delivered. There are multiple regional patient evacuation missions that have been going on through the Emergency Medical Task Force program. The Emergency Medical Task Force, EMTF, has deployed ambulance strike teams on state mission assignments to locations throughout the state and supporting additional STAR requests. Kimball County and Junction, our AMBUS went out there, and it has since been demobilized, but it transported patients back to San Antonio. AMBUSes in Garland have been activated, Coleman County activated, and again, a list here from Atascocita, to Fort Bend, to Hopkins County, to Frisco, to Fort Bend County, to Flower Mound, to Cedar Hill, to Frisco, all working across the state moving patients from places that don’t have electricity to places that do.
Chief Nim Kidd: (24:44)
We continue to support our local government partners with the AMBUS program. And really thank you to all of those local responders that are helping with that. The two day AMBUS missions have relocated over 300 personnel. Health and Human Services continues to work with our regulatory for the six facilities that have had frozen broken leaking pipes. 32 have reported power outages and 10 of those have evacuations that are in process. We continue to support our local health authorities and local health administrations, and continue to support 2-1-1. 2-1-1 has done a tremendous job in taking a number of calls. I think the wait time is down to three to five minutes. They brought on the right people, Governor, to be able to answer the questions. So big hats off to the Health and Human Services Commission.
Chief Nim Kidd: (25:26)
While people is our main focus, agriculture is still a way of life in Texas. The Texas Animal Health Commission, the Texas Department of Agriculture, A&M AgriLife Extension, and A&M Veterinary Emergency Medical Team have been out working to support our livestock areas. Yesterday they hosted a call with all the industry leaders to make sure that gas curtailments can also not have a severe impact on our livestock so that we’ll continue to get our food in the future.
Chief Nim Kidd: (25:51)
Then finally, a last word on recovery. You’ve heard of the Texas VOADS, our Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, great partners to us in every event. We do have a 254 county emergency declaration. We are working with FEMA to increase that for public assistance and individual assistance. As Governor mentioned, that’s going to require some proving of damages. We have disaster summary outlines from our local government partners that are already sending in their DSOs to us. Our Disaster Recovery Task Force is working remotely all across the state with our VOADS and it will be important that we work with your insurance company first, your insurance company, if you do not have insurance then are volunteer organizations active in disaster, our faith-based organizations will be ready to help, and we will work very closely with FEMA on the recovery process.
Chief Nim Kidd: (26:40)
I got to say another quick thank you to our FEMA partners who have been here in the room with us the entire time. They are helping us resource water, cots, blankets, and generators. We’ll also continue to work with our private sector partners to make sure that the infrastructure to support them, to support citizens is up, and working with our local food banks as well to make sure that those are in need of food have a place to get it.
Gov. Abbott: (27:01)
Thank you. People who see you respond to hurricanes are accustomed to seeing you go through that list on coastal based counties. But this is different because all 254 counties have been affected. I want to circle back on one thing you were talking about and that is to make sure that everybody knows where and how they can access warming centers in the event they need to go to one. If I recall correctly, if you live in a city, you can call 3-1-1,-
Chief Nim Kidd: (27:28)
Gov. Abbott: (27:28)
And if you live in a rural area call 2-1-1.
Chief Nim Kidd: (27:31)
Gov. Abbott: (27:32)
If you do have access to the internet, you gave them an address location they can go to and that is…
Chief Nim Kidd: (27:37)
tdem.texas, spelled out, .gov/warm, W-A-R-M.
Gov. Abbott: (27:45)
Also, I’ve found that just by going to Google and typing in “warming center in Texas,” and it’ll show locations near you where you can get access to a warming center. In addition to those issues, there are many issues that have been addressed by multiple agencies in the state of Texas, one of which is the Texas Railroad Commission, and we have with us Commissioner Christi Craddick.
Christi Craddick: (28:12)
Thank you, Governor, and it has been an unusual time so at the Railroad Commission, we obviously are working on gas issues. First and foremost, we’ve been meeting every day with the Texas Energy Reliability Council. It’s made up of gas, electric, PUC, Railroad Commission, and other… Did I miss some… Oil and gas operators, pipelines, trying to make sure that our grid is moving and we get reports from the gas people every day. I will say we’ve had multiple calls on top of that with operators to make sure that we start getting gas online. So the good news in the west and in the southern part of the state is that we’re beginning to unfreeze, and in doing so, we’ve been working with the PUC to try to make sure there is electricity out to some of these [inaudible 00:29:02] sites and these processing plants so gas can start moving in this state. It’s really important.
Christi Craddick: (29:08)
That being said, we’ve had a lot of gas in the state. If you are getting gas into your home, you’re getting it because our gas producers are getting gas to the state. They’re doing with maximum withdrawal. We not only produce, but we have storage facilities in the state. So they’re doing maximum withdrawal out of their storage facilities to make sure we have gas available. So we are seeing some of that gas begin to really move in producing areas getting back online. That’s a plus for us longterm.
Christi Craddick: (29:39)
Look, our priorities have been working with both TDEM as well as TxDOT, PUC and other state and local agencies to make sure our operators can get back onto their leases to make sure that they’re safe first and foremost as well, and to continue to provide that gas to Texas. This evening we will meet as an agency to extend our priority order to make sure that residentials are being provided for and also human needs, local distribution companies, as well as power generation.
Christi Craddick: (30:15)
As a reminder, and look, I’m of those that have been without power for a lot of hours, too, as have a couple members of my family and several members of my staff, but reminder, please don’t use your gas where you’re not supposed to. We are having carbon monoxide issues. We want you to be safe, we want you to be warm, but don’t get carbon monoxide poisoning. Don’t use your gas how you’re not supposed to. So it is a real safety issue as well. If you see an issue with your gas as well as a broken pipeline or something like that, that you know is a gas pipeline, please call your local distribution company, your gas company that you get your gas from, let them come out, inspect it, turn it off safely. We want to make sure people are safe as we continue to warm up in the next week. Thank you, Governor.
Gov. Abbott: (31:09)
Thank you. An issue that is increasingly arising are water quality issues as well as some other environmental issues. The state is working to address that primarily under the leadership of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Executive Director of which is Toby Baker.
Toby Baker: (31:29)
Thank you, Governor. We’ve seen over the last 24 hours, the number of local drinking water systems being impacted, go up significantly. As of noon today, there were 332 local water systems reporting impacts in 110 counties across the state. 276 had issued boil water notices. The current population impacted by boil water notices is just under 7 million Texans. The population impacted by non-operational systems at this time is about 263,958. I want to prepare the public specifically on these local water systems because when a boil water notice is issued, to come off of that notice, there has to be bacteriological sampling done for that system. That sampling can take up to 24 hours. So as the roads start to thaw, your power starts to come back on, you may not see your boil water notice lift until that sampling is done.
Toby Baker: (32:36)
There are currently about 135 accredited labs across the state that can do that sampling. We are reaching out specifically to each of those labs and we will be assisting local water systems in connecting with those labs when they’re ready to get those samples submitted. We’ve also partnered with the EPA to start looking at labs in other states, our partnering states around us, to try to access some of those labs as well so we don’t run into a bottleneck with the testing.
Toby Baker: (33:09)
Part of the reason for the number of impacted systems, or the reason is obviously number one, lack of power. The power’s gone down. Number two, frozen lines that have led to breaks in those lines. Then finally, with everyone dripping their faucets, extreme use of the water in one system for example, we saw usage that was near peak summer demand usage for water because of people dripping their pipes and pulling the pressure down on the system. So we will continue to connect local water systems with those labs, but it is an ongoing issue and this number is probably going to grow over the next day or two. Thank you, Governor.
Gov. Abbott: (33:55)
Thank you and thank all of you. We’ll take a few questions
Speaker 1: (34:08)
Governor, I have a question regarding what you said on Sean Hannity the other night where you stated that it was all to do with basically renewable energy. Yet today and the other day, you put out a tweet saying this is all due to what everybody just talked about, natural gas and coal. A major Austin and a major San Antonio newspaper that headline right now in Australia accuse you of lying to the public. So could you explain to us which it is? Do you think it’s renewable? Is it natural gas? Is it combination? What is it?
Gov. Abbott: (34:32)
So over the past 24 to 48 hours, have conducted about two dozen or more interviews. I have repeatedly talked about how every source of power that the state of Texas has, has been compromised, whether it be renewable power, such as wind or solar, but also as I mentioned today, access to coal generated power, access to gas generator power also have been compromised, whether it be with regard to systems freezing up or equipment failures, as well as our nuclear power facility. So the fact is every source of power the state of Texas has access to has been compromised because of the ultra cold temperature or because of equipment failures.
Speaker 1: (35:29)
But on Hannity, you made a disparaging remark about the Green New Deal implying that we’re part of that and this is the reason we’re all here today because we didn’t invest enough in other [inaudible 00:35:41], we invested too much in Green New Deal. Are you saying you don’t want to invest any more in green energy?
Gov. Abbott: (35:46)
What I made it clear was the fact that if we relied solely upon green energy, that would be a challenge. But in Texas, we do not rely solely upon green energy. We have access to all sources of energy.
Speaker 1: (36:01)
So you’re now saying totally different than what you said on Hannity.
Gov. Abbott: (36:03)
All sources of energy.
Speaker 2: (36:03)
So you’re now saying, totally different from what you said [inaudible 00:36:03].
Gov. Abbott: (36:04)
Not at all, not at all.
Speaker 2: (36:06)
That’s what you said on [inaudible 00:36:06].
Gov. Abbott: (36:07)
Yeah. That’s not what I-
Is there a question from another outlet?
Speaker 8: (36:07)
Governor, can you just talk about ERCOT and your plans in addressing those issues [inaudible 00:45:04].
Gov. Abbott: (36:16)
Say again, now?
Speaker 8: (36:17)
Could you just talk about [inaudible 00:45:04] with ERCOT? [inaudible 00:36:22] did you want an investigation [crosstalk 00:36:24] Where’s that going now?
Gov. Abbott: (36:23)
Right, right. So today I spoke with both the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker and both the House and Senate will begin investigations, if I understand correctly, next week. And that will begin that process where we fully evaluate exactly what was done and maybe what was not done in both the decision process, as well as the action process by ERCOT. Making sure that we get to the root of any missteps that took place, what was done, what can be done better.
Speaker 3: (37:01)
Governor Abbot, on Hannity last night you mentioned how wind and solar [inaudible 00:37:03] local stations across the state [inaudible 00:37:04] natural gas [inaudible 00:37:12] on a national scale?
Gov. Abbott: (37:15)
Sure. As you point out, as I stated on local TV stations as well as local radio shows, I talked about the challenges to all of the power generation sources that we have in the State of Texas, including wind and solar, but also including coal, including natural gas and including nuclear also. I was asked a question on one TV show about renewable, and I responded to that question.
Speaker 4: (37:51)
Governor. You said in rural counties and you mentioned a lot of things that are on the way with water, blankets and cots. Can you give a timetable or is it just a matter of when the weather gives you the opportunity?
Gov. Abbott: (38:05)
I’m sorry, an opportunity to what?
Speaker 4: (38:12)
To deliver these goods out to the rural counties.
Gov. Abbott: (38:13)
We’ve already delivered them to rural counties. But Chief Kidd will have the details about that.
Chief Kidd: (38:18)
So Governor, you’re exactly right. A lot of these deliveries have already been made. As more are request more will come out. There are some places that the roads are just so bad we can’t get to them. That’s why we’re bringing up the Air Operation Center to be able to fly resources in. But this isn’t a, “We’re going to wait until it’s a blue sky day to get our stuff out there.” We’re already moving as much as we can that we can get our hands on.
Speaker 5: (38:40)
Governor, you’ve talked about messaging here. Obviously this is a fluid situation, but you’re the guy at the top. Can you help tell people what is actually going on? Do you know what’s going? With what’s going on with the power right not, people have no power, people have no water. [inaudible 00:39:02]
Gov. Abbott: (39:03)
Here’s what’s going on with the power. There are multiple sources of power that go into the power grid in the State of Texas. And I’ll just tick them off one by one. One source of power is the South Texas Nuclear project. That power source was down until, I think, the early morning hours today or late last night at the earliest. And it takes a while for it to fully power up. And as I understand, it has been adding power to the power grid as the day has progressed and should be fully operational as of tonight.
Gov. Abbott: (39:48)
I’m going to go through these. Another source of power that is generated that goes into the power grid is power generated either by coal or by natural gas. Some of those coal and natural gas power generating facilities either froze up or had mechanical failure and were incapable of adding power to the power grid.
Speaker 5: (40:13)
You talked about this.
Gov. Abbott: (40:13)
Speaker 5: (40:13)
What I want to know is, people want to know when it’s going to be restored. You talked about some people, where are those 600,000 people who were supposed to get their power back tonight going to [inaudible 00:40:25]
Gov. Abbott: (40:25)
That is information that has not been provided to me. And so the exact zip codes and locations of where the power is going to be turned on or not, we don’t have. What I can tell you is this, and that is, there are certain areas that fall within the zones of the investor-run power distributors. And those are… Give me one second here. Lost my notes.
Speaker 5: (41:11)
ERCOTs giving you no direction on this. Is that the feeling here?
Gov. Abbott: (41:16)
ERCOT has not provided information about which location and which geographic location the additional power is coming onto or is not coming on to.
Speaker 5: (41:32)
You have no control over ERCOT [inaudible 00:41:33].
Gov. Abbott: (41:33)
ERCOT is an independent private entity that, candidly, I have both investigated, prosecuted before when I was the Attorney General of Texas. And we’re now investigating again, I’m not suggesting in any way that there’s been any criminal activity or anything like that. But, it is something that needs to be looked at with the regard to, it is kind of opaque the way that it runs. It’s not transparent. And one thing that everybody needs out of ERCOT is greater transparency, especially the residents across the State of Texas.
Speaker 6: (42:11)
Governor, has this changed your opinion, at all, on Climate change? This is something that Texas has never seen before, all the way down to Galveston. Has this changed anything and where does this lie as a priority this legislative session?
Gov. Abbott: (42:22)
We want to, this session, make sure that we address these challenges, just like what we did in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. It was important to be able to respond to the challenges posed by Hurricane Harvey. This is a different type of climate event. This is a once in every 120 year cold front event they have to respond to.
Gov. Abbott: (42:42)
I will say this, and that is, the last time the state dealt with something like this was actually in 2011. There was a severe cold spell in the state of Texas at that time. That led to changes both with regard to ERCOT, but also with regard to the power system in the State of Texas.
Gov. Abbott: (43:00)
And so, this session we want to undertake the same type of review that was done in the session in 2011. Maybe reevaluate some of the decisions that were made in 2011? But we want to make sure that we are capable of ensuring that the state will be able to withstand cold spells like what happened this time.
All right, last question.
Speaker 7: (43:23)
Governor, could you just talk about the need to conserve energy and maybe what you’ve done with State agencies to turn lights off on buildings around the Capitol, etc?
Gov. Abbott: (43:33)
First, I will tell you that att State agencies have been actively involved in conservation of energy, turning off power whenever and wherever possible. As well as, we’ve seen residents and importantly downtowns… Let me mention this real quick.
Gov. Abbott: (43:45)
As many people reported, there were downtown buildings that had lights on while other people had no power at all in the cities around those downtown areas. I saw last night, it looked like in downtown Houston, they had shut off their lights in the downtown area and those buildings. I don’t know what happened in the other large downtowns, but turning off lights that are not needed right now would be a way. There would be more power available on the grid that we would be able to get to residential areas. As a result we urge everyone, but especially the large users of power, to do everything possible to keep your lights off if they are not needed.
All right. Thank you guys so much. That’s it-