Texas governor orders natural gas producers not to export supply, blames city-owned utilities for power outages
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced new orders requiring state-regulated power utilities to implement rolling outages and natural gas providers not to export their product out-of-state in an effort to assuage a days-long power-and-water crisis during a press conference on Wednesday, the first one he has held since the outages began early Monday morning.
Austin Energy officials have repeatedly stressed that they are not yet able to implement rotating outages. "Currently, we are not stable enough to have rotating outages," General Manager Jackie Sargent said during a Wednesday press conference, adding that the utility cannot restore power to circuits without compromising those serving critical loads, such as hospitals and fire stations.
Abbott also asked state agencies to issue provisional licenses to out-of-state plumbers and insurance adjusters.
Millions of Texans are without power and an increasing number are also without water, as freezing temperatures have caused water pipes and mains to burst. Abbott and other state officials have not said when residents can expect their power and water supply to resume but expressed hope that warming temperatures will lessen the crisis.
Abbott blamed city-owned and coop-owned utilities for the power outages. "It would not be any state-based entity that makes those decisions," he said, making no mention of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages about 90% of the state's power grid.
Austin Energy officials have stressed that they have been ordered by ERCOT to cut power to a certain number of customers to avoid a total grid shutdown, which could take months to restore. Abbott criticized the entity on Tuesday, when he announced ERCOT reform would be an emergency item this legislative session and later said that he thinks its leadership should resign.
Abbott faced criticism after he attributed the state's days-long power crisis to wind turbine failures and took a shot at renewable energy policies. "This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America," the Republican governor told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Tuesday.
180,000+ @austinenergy customers have no power. Some ⚡️ restored but *not* enough. If water main broken call 5129721000, 911 if medical emergency
Don't call @GovAbbott for help though, he's busy making an ass of himself on @FoxNews while people freeze.
Will be posting updates.
— Gregorio Casar (@GregCasar) February 17, 2021
Although all of the state's energy sources have been impacted, ERCOT officials said the primary cause of the power outages have been weather-related failures of the state's natural gas providers. "Gas is failing in the most spectacular fashion right now," University of Texas at Austin energy resources professor Michael Webber told the Texas Tribune.
Another round of precipitation is forecasted across Texas Wednesday night, which will likely exacerbate icy roads and other transportation challenges.
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🗓 All weekend
Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities
All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park
This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.
6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703
This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.
10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park
Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.
Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.
11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway