Texas governor calls for investigation into electric grid operator after mass outages

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AUSTIN, Texas (NewsNation Now) — Gov. Greg Abbott is calling on the Texas Legislature to investigate the state’s electric grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, after millions of residents were left without power for days during record low temperatures.

Gov. Abbott on Tuesday declared reform of the council, which manages power flow in the state, an emergency item for the current legislative session.

“The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours,” Abbott said in a statement. “Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable.”

As of Tuesday, at least 4 million customers across Texas remain without power, while temperatures have dipped into the single digits. ERCOT has asked customers to reduce electricity use as much as possible through Tuesday, including closing shades to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows and avoiding the use of large appliances.

“Reviewing the preparations and decisions by ERCOT is an emergency item so we can get a full picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions,” Gov. Abbott said. “I thank my partners in the House and Senate for acting quickly on this challenge, and I will work with them to enhance Texas’ electric grid and ensure that our state never experiences power outages like this again.”

ERCOT told NewsNation affiliate KXAN on Tuesday that the reason for the initial rolling blackouts in some areas has been to maintain the state’s energy grid. What this means is ERCOT advises power companies on how much they have available to use safely at any given time. Then, those utility companies decide how to manage the energy, ERCOT CEO and President Bill Magnus told KXAN.

“We just tell them the amount we need from an engineering, from a grid perspective, and they manage the local plan and how it’s undertaken,” he said.

Magness explained that ERCOT’s primary function is to keep the “balance of supply and demand on the grid,” to ensure large collapses don’t happen.

“As hard as these outages are, they avoid a much more catastrophic situation,” he said.

NewsNation affiliate KXAN and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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