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Abbott answers questions about last week's power grid failure during Corpus Christi stop

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Posted at 2:18 PM, Feb 25, 2021

Gov. Greg Abbott made a stop in Corpus Christi late Thursday morning to thank city officials, city firefighters, and the Meals on Wheels program in their efforts to get homebound seniors vaccinated.

But the pandemic isn’t the only hot-button issue the governor is dealing with right now.

We wanted to know, as millions of Texans still find themselves without water -- and countless others try to pick up the pieces of their lives after The Big Freeze -- who is to blame, and who should be taking responsibility?

We pressed him about the state’s failure to making sure Texans had power during The Big Freeze.

We wanted to know why neither power generators, transmission companies, or state lawmakers didn’t take the recommendations from federal and state reports to winterize the infrastructure, especially in the wake of the crippling 1989 and 2011 winter storms.

"I cannot explain why back in 1989 or 2011 it was a suggestion and not a mandate, but if you listened to what I said last night, I was crystal clear: This is no longer going to be a suggestion -- this is going to be a mandate,” Abbott told KRIS 6 News. “I said it last night, and I will say it again: This legislative session will not end until we mandate the winterization and summerization of our grid. We never again can allow power to go (out) in the state of Texas."

We also asked Abbott about the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCoT) and its role in the deadly power outage. He told us that, in the past, that ERCoT failed after assuring him five days before the storm that it was more than adequately prepared.

During the beginning of hearings in Austin on Thursday morning -- where ERCoT board members found themselves in the hot seat -- they told lawmakers they worked with power providers to make the decision of turning over parts of the grid since they were 4 minutes and 37 seconds away from the grid catastrophically failing.

We pressed Abbott about what some would call the "blame game," and some pointing fingers at ERCoT, while others look to him.

“There's two very specific reasons why ERCoT is getting the blame for this,” he told us. “ERCoT is in charge of ensuring that we have power across the state of Texas. ERCoT has to make the decisions based on their interpretation of what a winter storm looks like. Step 1, which was a failure, was not to take winter storm serious enough. They downplayed it, at the same time telling me and the public they were fully prepared for it.”

In addition to Thursday's ERCoT meeting in Austin with lawmakers, other investigations are underway into how the winter storm was handled, to see what went wrong.