Abbott responds to winter storm, prepares for power outages

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Kristen Scheaffer

With Texas being hit with another winter storm, Governor Greg Abbott addresses Texans with a plan at an Austin news conference Feb. 1. Governor Abbott said there would be 27 state agencies supporting Texans and 10,000 megawatts of extra capacity for use at the expected peak demand.

Kristen Scheaffer, Staff Reporter

Winter Storm Uri hit Texas and the eastern half of the United States Thursday, Feb. 3, 2021, leaving nearly 4 million Texans without power, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. The damage adds up to nearly $295 billion. 

That storm took 246 Texans’ lives and spanned 77 counties, according to the Texas Health and Human Services. It was reported that almost two-thirds of these deaths were caused by hypothermia.  

Learning from that tragedy, Gov. Greg Abbott seems to be prepared with a plan this year. Abbott distributed a press release with representatives ranging from ERCOT, the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, and more, detailing the current stance on the power grid and preparations for the storm.  

“At the expected peak demand, there should be about 10,000 megawatts of extra capacity,” Abbott said during the press release. “To put that into context, that is about enough extra power to supply about two million homes.”  

During this year’s storm on Feb. 3, the grid did hold strong as storms brought snow and ice to cities across the state. However, power was still lost due to reasons ranging from wind and ice affecting fallen trees and powers, according to poweroutages.us. Power was lost among 52,000 Texans within the state during this month’s storm.  

Abbott explained in a press release that the power grid would hold its own but warned that fallen trees and other effects from the storm could lead to residents experiencing power outages for short periods of time. In a statement, Gov. Abbott ensured Texas residents that there were people in place to address the situations as they happened. He made clear that there were 27 state agencies in place ensuring the support Texans may need.  

“The State of Texas has deployed a plethora of resources to ensure our communities have the support they need to respond to this storm,” said Abbott in a press release. “Texas is experiencing one of the most significant ice events in decades, but we have taken unprecedented steps to ensure that our power grid continues to function reliably despite treacherous weather conditions. As we continue to face freezing temperatures, precipitation, and other dangerous elements, I urge Texans to be prepared and heed the guidance of their local officials as we all work together to keep people safe.”  

Abbott did sign an emergency proclamation after the Feb. 3 storm for 17 of Texas’ counties, the majority being in North Texas. This storm was mild compared to last year’s Storm Uri.  

Abbott stated in the press release that arrangements were made, many would be on standby to service places of need. 

Kristen Scheaffer is a staff reporter and can be reached at [email protected]