Governor Greg Abbott met with energy CEOs on Thursday to receive assurances that the power grid will be prepared for another potential winter storm. First reported by the Quorum Report’s Scott Braddock, the meeting was the latest move by Abbott to assuage Texans’ concerns and address the criticism his administration is not doing enough to present another blackout like what happened in February with Winter Storm Uri.
While his press release touted several efforts by generators to weatherize and improve communication, there was no mention of gas supply being weatherized, just natural gas facilities getting designated as “critical infrastructure” and on-site storage.
Perhaps not coincidentally, these meetings occurred the same day the Public Utilities Commission made a decision on market reforms that could raise costs for customers in an attempt to increase reliability and move away from a crisis-based business model for the electricity market.
Per his office, the energy companies that Gov. Abbott met with include:
Energy Transfer LP
These companies’ CEOs, lobbyists, and PACs have contributed $3.2 million to Abbott’s campaign since 2013, at least $1.09 million of which came in June after the moratorium on fundraising ended during the legislative session and veto period. See contributions at the bottom of the article.
The frontrunner in the Democratic primary for Governor Beto O’Rourke tweeted this response to the news: “Abbott’s friends at the Utility Commission discussed adding $2 billion to our electricity bills today. On top of the $20-50/month Abbott Tax we’re paying from the winter storm. At the same time, Abbott was meeting behind closed doors with the energy CEOs who stand to profit.”
The resistance of Abbott’s administration and the Texas Legislature to weatherize the gas supply to ensure fuel reaches power plants in extreme weather conditions might be explained by the power of the natural gas industry’s intense lobbying efforts and bankrolling of politicians.
If Texas faces a winter storm similar to last February or even less harsh in some cases, experts say the state could face blackouts again.