Greg Abbott Blames Texas Power Outages on Green Energy but State Depends on Gas

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has blamed recent widespread power outages in his state on green energy and criticized the proposed Green New Deal favored by progressive Democrats.

Abbott, a Republican, spoke to Fox News' Sean Hannity on Tuesday and emphasized wind turbines in Texas that failed due to the cold weather. More than 4 million people were left without power or heat in freezing temperatures.

"This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America," Abbott said, saying that wind and solar energy make up "collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid."

"It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary for the state of Texas as well as other states to make sure we'll be able to heat our homes in the winter time and cool our homes in the summer time," he said.

However, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which oversees most of the state's electrical grid, has placed the blame for the outages on Texas' reliance on natural gas.

Dan Woodfin, a senior director at ERCOT, told The Texas Tribune on Tuesday that more than half of their winter generating capacity is offline and that much of this is powered by natural gas.

"It appears that a lot of the generation that has gone offline today has been primarily due to issues on the natural gas system," Woodfin said.

Natural gas production has been declining in the state and nationwide this year according to S&P Global Platts, while it's estimated that 80 percent of the Texas electricity grid's capacity may be generated by natural gas, coal and nuclear power. Just 7 percent of its winter capacity was due to come from wind.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, shows the impact of power outages across the U.S.

Texas Blackout
Statista

The state is experiencing frozen natural gas wells, frozen wind turbines and at least one nuclear power plant has also shut down in the cold weather, but gas is the largest factor.

Gas supplies for electricity generation in the state are already strained in winter, according to a Houston Chronicle report on Tuesday. The Texas Railroad Commission, the body that regulates oil and gas, reported freezing conditions among some producers, including in the Permian Basin and Panhandle.

These conditions have affected production and the commission issued an emergency order so that gas would be delivered first to homes, hospitals, schools and churches amid the shortages. Gas would then be delivered to power plants and industrial locations.

"Texas is a gas state," Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told The Texas Tribune. "Gas is failing in the most spectacular fashion right now," he said.

ERCOT has said they can't say when power will be fully restored in Texas but the state is expected to suffer further severe winter weather as millions remain without power or heat in their homes.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announces the reopening of more Texas businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol on May 18, 2020 in Austin, Texas. Abbott has criticized green energy amid major power outages in his state. Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images