Energy Plant Winterization Added To Legislature’s Emergency Agenda

Gov. Abbott hasn’t said how weatherization and other improvements would be paid for.

By Jill Ament & Shelly BrisbinFebruary 19, 2021 11:05 am

As power and water outages continue to pummel Texas, politicians are facing questions about what happened, and demands for solutions.

Bob Garrett is Austin bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News. He told Texas Standard that the state’s power generation capacity is mostly back to normal, according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who held a press conference Thursday.

Continuing power outages have to do with local connection issues, or downed power lines, the governor said.

Abbott added requiring winterization and modernization of electricity generating plants to his list of emergency items for legislators to tackle during the current session. The call includes funding for those upgrades.

But Garrett says it’s not yet clear where the funding for updating energy plants would come from. Abbott did not provide details.

“It’s obvious, and we’ve done some reporting on this, that instead of having heavy-handed regulations, which our leaders in Texas don’t like, we opted to have a market-incentive approach to this electric generation. And it’s obvious that these generators did a cost-benefit analysis and decided there wasn’t return on investment to do expensive winterization,” Garrett said.

After an ice storm in 2011 that also knocked out power in parts of Texas, Garrett says the Legislature passed a bill requiring power providers to report on the weatherization of their facilities. Garrett says state comptroller Glenn Hegar, who was in the Legislature at the time, isn’t happy that the bill didn’t result in fixes that would have reduced the impact of this week’s storm.

“It’s hard to say whether we’ll go all the way back to 1999 and unwind our [energy] deregulation bill passed by a bipartisan Legislature under Republican Gov. George W. Bush,” Garrett said.

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