Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Says He Can't Guarantee Power One Year After Freeze

As a cold front and possible ice storms head into Texas this week, Governor Greg Abbott said the state is more prepared for the weather this year than it was the last, but said there could be power outages again.

The National Weather Service issued midweek winter storm warnings heeding against icy conditions in multiple Texas counties.

Last year, over two million Texans were out of power after the state's power grid was hit by a winter storm and freezing temperatures.

In November, Abbott pledged that power would stay on this winter.

"I can guarantee the lights will stay on," Abbott said to a KTBC-TV reporter in November.

Greg Abbott Speaks to the Press
As a cold front and possible ice storms head to Texas this week, Governor Greg Abbott said the state is more prepared this year, but also warned there could be power outages again. Above, Abbott speaks during a press conference at the Capitol on June 8, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

However, Abbott has since rescinded his vow. During a press conference, the governor said that ice on power lines could cause the power to go out.

"No one can guarantee that there won't be a load shed event," Abbott said, according to the Texas Tribune. "But what we will work and strive to achieve — and what we're prepared to achieve — is that the power's going to stay on across the entire state."

A load shed occurs when the demand for electricity is more than the supply, causing rolling blackouts while grid operators attempt to keep the system from collapsing. During the load shed last year, hundreds of people lost their lives due to the storm.

One of Texas' largest electricity retailers is still facing multiple class-action lawsuits to compensate customers affected by surging prices that came alongside the inclement weather. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and dozens of power producers had a lawsuit filed against them in Travis County District Court.

The lawsuit alleges that the companies "failed to plan and prepare for the winter storm event, and the energy failure caused significant property damage to the policyholders of plaintiffs," KXAN reported.

ERCOT says the power grid is ready for winter operations this year. The company said in a press release in January that the readiness report showed 321 out of 324 electric generation units and transmission facilities passed the new winterization regulations.

"The Texas electric grid is more prepared for winter operations than ever before," said interim ERCOT CEO Brad Jones.

Abbott backed the claim, saying he's been working with ERCOT to strengthen the power grid.

Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who is running against Abbott for governor, expressed his dissatisfaction with Abbott's handling of the initial crisis.

"Governor Abbott was warned repeatedly after grid failures in 2011 and 2014 that we had serious vulnerabilities," O'Rourke told KVUE Monday. "He didn't listen to the experts and has failed to do anything since the collapse last February."

On the stump, O'Rourke has been adamant about fixing the grid. On Tuesday, he tweeted, "When I'm governor, we won't have to worry every time the temperature drops."