Governor Abbott provides update on Texas’ response to winter weather conditions

Owner Jim McIngvale collects trash inside his Gallery Furniture store which opened as a shelter Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Houston. Millions in Texas still had no power after a historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge of demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state’s power grid and causing widespread blackouts. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Austin, February 18 – Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday provided an update on the state’s response to severe winter weather conditions and power outages throughout the state. The Governor discussed the weather forecast, response efforts to assist Texans in need, water quality, and other issues affecting communities across the state.

The Governor discussed the current power situation in Texas and what the state is doing to get more Texans back online. There still remains about 10,000 megawatts (MW) that are off the power grid in Texas. About 6,000 MW have been added to the Texas grid over the past day, which is equivalent to power for about 1.2 million households. In addition to the 6,000 MW restored to the grid, additional power generation from coal and other sources will continue to come online throughout tomorrow. Small natural gas generators should sporadically add megawatts over the next 24 hours to help bring electricity to thousands of Texans. There are still challenges with all sources of generation, resulting from mechanical difficulties, gas supply issues, and the effects of extreme winter weather conditions.

The Governor has ordered natural gas producers not to export product out of state until February 21st and instead sell it to providers within Texas. The Governor also noted that he has been working closely with the White House to provide additional resources for Texans and expand the supply of the energy in the state. The Texas Railroad Commission has worked closely with the Public Utility Commission, Electric Reliability Council of Texas, and other state and local agencies to ensure that electricity and gas can swiftly be provided across the state.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) addressed water quality issues impacting communities across the state. TCEQ is working with water quality labs to ensure the safety of drinking water. TCEQ is also working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to identify other water quality labs in partnering states to provide additional assistance.

Snow and sleet are expected in Northeast Texas over the next few hours. Another round of precipitation will make it’s way across the Southern part of the state over the next 24 hours. Most of the state will continue to face freezing temperatures for the next few days. Across the state, the temperature should begin getting above freezing on Saturday. Road conditions will remain challenging for the next few days as well.

The Governor discussed the ways the state is dealing with plumbing challenges. The Texas Board of Plumbing Examiners is able to give provisional licenses to out-of-state plumbers to increase the response to burst pipes and flooding. The Governor will also issue a waiver that allows plumbers currently holding an expired license to assist with Texans in need following the storm through the waiving of certain fees and examination requirements.

Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd noted that many state agencies are continuing to work together to support local officials, first responders, and communities impacted by the weather. The Texas Department of Public Safety have transported fuel, blood, and other resources to hospitals and other essential facilities, and have responded to vehicle crashes throughout the state. Over 4,500 Texas Department of Transportation employees are operating over 740 snowplows and other equipment to address the ice on interstates throughout Texas. The Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are also assisting in the state’s response.

TDEM has been assisting in the establishment of warming centers throughout the state. Over 300 warming centers are operational.

“The State of Texas is working around the clock to provide the resources, assistance, and support that our communities need to respond to the impacts of this winter weather,” said Governor. “We will continue to exhaust all available methods to restore power for Texans and ensure that our communities can recover.”

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