Beto O'Rourke vows to connect Texas power grid to rest of nation during San Antonio campaign stop

O'Rourke made the remarks during a roundtable discussion with filmmaker, activist and Texas native Eugene Lee Yang, who's making a film called 'This Is Texas.'

click to enlarge Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks at a fundraiser in San Antonio hosted by Youtuber and activist Eugene Lee Yang on Monday. - Michael Karlis
Michael Karlis
Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks at a fundraiser in San Antonio hosted by Youtuber and activist Eugene Lee Yang on Monday.
With Texas facing potential rolling blackouts Monday, gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke pledged during a San Antonio appearance to connect the Lone Star State's stand-alone electrical grid with the rest of the nation.

The former Democratic congressman also told the crowd at Southtown's Freight Gallery that he'd curb high utility bills by hiring an independent market monitor to oversee the state's natural-gas industry.

"I just want to tell you that as governor, we're going to do it. We're going to connect [the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT] to the national grid," he said.

O'Rourke made the remarks during a roundtable discussion with filmmaker, activist and Texas native Eugene Lee Yang, best known for his YouTube channel The Try Guys. The fundraiser and discussion will be featured in Yang's documentary This Is Texas, scheduled for a Sept. 7 release on his YouTube channel.

The talk took place the same afternoon ERCOT asked Texans to conserve energy usage, warning that scorching temperatures and high energy demand were pushing the state's power grid to its limits.

O'Rourke, who faces Gov. Greg Abbott, in November has seized the widespread power failures during February 2021's Winter Storm Uri and the Republican incumbent's coziness with the energy industry as campaign issues. During his San Antonio discussion, O'Rourke said the current strain on the grid is eerily similar to the failure during Uri, which left hundreds dead.

"There was another crime in addition to the taking of these lives," he said. "And that was the biggest transfer of wealth in Texas history."

While Alamo City residents were left freezing in their homes for as many as four days, some of Texas' largest energy companies made $11 billion in profit by changing 200 times the going rate for the fuel needed to operate the grid, O'Rourke said.

"One of those CEOs literally cut Greg Abbott a $1 million campaign contribution check as if to say, 'Thank you very much,'" he added.

Dallas pipeline tycoon Kelcy Warren donated $1 million to the Abbott campaign in the aftermath of the winter storm. Warren later sued O'Rourke's campaign, alleging the Democrat defamed him by bringing up the donation in speeches. O'Rourke has since called the lawsuit "frivolous."

O'Rourke said that, as governor, he would hire an independent market monitor for gas sales to prevent Texas oil tycoons from taking advantage of energy consumers by manipulating the price of natural gas.

"We want to make sure we help the ratepayer, that's all of you and your neighbors or friends that have seen some of the sharpest increases in electric utility rates because of this grid failure," O'Rourke said. "That wealth transfer is one of the greatest drivers of inflation in Texas. So let's get that $11 billion back and return it to the citizens and ratepayers, and ensure that it's more affordable to live in San Antonio and Texas."

Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.
Scroll to read more San Antonio News articles
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join SA Current Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.