Gov. Abbott provides updates on water, power outages

Gov. Greg Abbott addresses the media during a press conference Jan. 11 at Esports Stadium Arlington & Expo Center. 

Gov. Greg Abbott provided updates on power outages, emergency response efforts and more in a press conference Wednesday for the first time since the winter storm swept the state.  

Power outages have occurred because natural gas-fired generators and wind generators are stalled due to mechanical issues or a lack of fuel for gas generators to produce power. Renewable power remains offline because of freezing conditions or lack of sun for solar power.

Around 10,000 megawatts remain off the grid and are not contributing to power in the state, Abbott said.

Abbott issued an order Wednesday, effective through Sunday, for Texas’ natural gas producers shipping power out of state to sell to in-state power generators instead.

“Every source of power that the state of Texas has, has been compromised,” Abbott said.  

Since Wednesday morning, 6,000 megawatts have been added to the Texas power grid, which is equivalent to powering about 1.2 million households, Abbott said. There will be additional onboarding from the South Texas Project and coal-generated power, which resumed operations this morning.  

Various small natural gas generators are sporadically adding about 3,000 megawatts over the next 24 hours, equating to power for about 600,000 homes.  

Transportation continues to be a challenge during extreme winter conditions. The Texas Department of Transportation has over 4,500 employees working to clear and de-ice the roadways and keep the interstate systems running.

TxDOT is prioritizing routes to critical infrastructures, said W. Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management and vice chancellor for Disaster and Emergency Services.  

The Texas Department of Public Safety has over 3,300 troopers responding and investigating automobile crashes and supporting local law enforcement, in addition to delivering blood to hospitals, fuel to power plants and first responders as well as relocating residents from nursing homes.  

Kidd said once it is safe, the Texas Department of Public Safety will work with an air operations center, flying water, cots, blankets and whatever supplies are needed all over the state.  

Over 300 warming centers have been created around the state. The centers are supported by local governments, and additional resources are allocated as needed. Additional warming centers may be created as required.   

The city of Arlington has two warming centers available for those affected by power outages, one located at The Salvation Army at 712 W. Abram St. and the other at the Dottie Lynn Recreation Center located at 3200 Norwood Lane.   

A number of local drinking water systems have been compromised due to a lack of power and frozen pipelines bursting. As of noon Wednesday, about 7 million Texans have been affected by boil water notices, said Toby Baker, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality executive director.    

Baker said bacterial sampling has to be done in order for a boil water notice to end, which can take up to 24 hours to be completed. The department is contacting labs both in and out of state to assist with processing bacterial samples.  

Arlington issued an advisory to its residents to boil tap water before consumption because of unprecedented demand and a possible major water main break Wednesday.  

The initial storm that caused the power outages has ended, but another round of precipitation will come through Texas over the next 24 hours, Abbott said.  

Cold temperatures will remain across the state for the next few days, and most of the state will see below freezing temperatures Thursday morning and through Thursday night. 

Any melting that occurs Friday will be brief and limited, and ice and snow may refreeze Friday night as the temperatures drop back below freezing. By Saturday, the temperature should be above freezing.  

@katecey1

news-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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