Despite lack of teeth in new Texas power grid rules, Abbott says he'll 'guarantee' no failures this winter

click to enlarge Hundreds of Texans died during February's winter storm and power grid collapse. - SANFORD NOWLIN
Sanford Nowlin
Hundreds of Texans died during February's winter storm and power grid collapse.
With Texas heading into winter, Gov. Greg Abbott wants Texans to know that the lights will stay on this time around. Indeed, he guarantees it.

“Listen, very confident about the grid, and I can tell you why. For one: I signed almost a dozen laws that make the power grid more effective,” the Republican governor said in an interview with FOX 7 Austin that aired Friday. “I can guarantee the lights will stay on.”

After February's devastating freeze and power outage that left hundreds of Texans dead, consumer groups and utility experts are considerably less confident. They have continuously warned that the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature's bills aimed at shoring up the grid don't go far enough.

A September report from two federal regulatory agencies appeared to bolster those claims, saying state lawmakers failed to address two key failures: frozen power plant equipment and shortages in fracked natural gas. The study recommended additional improvements to the state's grid and its oversight.

Five past Public Utility Commission of Texas commissioners and a senior regulatory advisor also issued a separate analysis in June warning that the Texas Legislature's reforms didn't go far enough. That report calls for 20 additional reforms from both policymakers and regulators.

What's more, Abbott's "guarantee" that the power grid will hold up came days before the Texas Tribune posted a lengthy investigation that suggests the state still hasn't remedied the breakdown in natural gas supply highlighted by both the feds and former PUC commissioners.

New state rules allow natural gas providers to sidestep weatherization improvements, according to industry experts interviewed by the Tribune. Further, a lack of data from both regulators and the companies they oversee "makes it impossible to know how many power and gas facilities are properly weatherized," according to the story.

Gosh, we feel safer already.

Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.