Gov. Greg Abbott says power grid prepared for arctic front, asks Texans to plan now for freezing temperatures

ERCOT CEO says ‘grid is better prepared than it has ever been before’

SAN ANTONIO – Gov. Greg Abbott stressed the reliability of the Texas power grid as an arctic front takes aim at Texas, and asked people to take precautions now as some parts of the state will be below freezing for more than 72 hours.

Abbott, who held a news conference with the state’s emergency management leaders on Friday, said “we feel very good about” the power staying on during the weather event.

Temperatures will plummet on Sunday with gusty winds. Sunday night into Monday morning, there’s a small potential for wintry precipitation in San Antonio.

A hard freeze is now expected Monday morning, Tuesday morning, and Wednesday morning — and some spots may stay below freezing for more than 72 hours.

“You just need to be well prepared for a multi-day, long period of being surrounded by extraordinarily cold weather,” Abbott said. “One thing that is less predictable, but based upon current predictions, is in our favor, and that is, there’s not a lot of precipitation that is expected to take place in the state of Texas during the storm.”

Power grid ‘better prepared than it has ever been before’

ERCOT CEO Pablo Vegas said there is no expectation of an energy emergency and the power grid operator is not calling for conservation.

ERCOT has, however, issued a Weather Watch for Monday, Jan. 15, through Wednesday, Jan. 17. The watch acts as an advanced notification for forecasted high demand and the potential for lower reserves.

Vegas said if the forecast changes, ERCOT will send notifications over the weekend.

“I want to let you know and reassure you that we are using every tool in our toolbox to make sure that the grid is going to be absolutely ready and prepared to deliver energy to all Texans throughout this weather event,” Vegas said. “The grid is better prepared than it has ever been before, in particular, as it relates to cold weather events like this that are that is approaching.”

This weather event is not expected to reach the same extreme conditions as the February 2021 freeze, when millions of people in Texas were left without power. During that time, San Antonio experienced 107.5 hours at or below 33 degrees.

Vegas said they’ve completed 1,800 weather inspections across power generation and transmission facilities in recent years, and 450 inspections have been completed so far this winter.

“In addition, the fuel supplies look solid across the board from coal piles to the gas supply,” Vegas said. “We expect there to be adequate fuel to meet the needs of Texans throughout this entire event as well, so fuel shouldn’t be an issue.”

Power lines may go down in the case of localized wind or ice. In that case, Vegas and Abbott said people should contact their local utility company.

How to stay safe

Texans should stay inside and off the roads in case of icy conditions, Abbott said.

Crews with the Texas Department of Transportation are preparing to treat roads in areas of Texas with a greater chance of precipitation, like Central and East Texas, Abbott said.

TxDOT San Antonio said it will begin pretreating roadways and structures in the area on Sunday.

In Bexar County, county officials told KSAT they have crews ready to de-ice roads, if needed. Bexar County Public Works released this statement to KSAT:

Bexar County’s Public Works and Emergency Management staff continue to monitor the developing weather situation. Public Works staff at the three county service centers have prepared trucks and equipment for pre-treatment of bridges and other high-level structures in unincorporated Bexar County.

Texas has 152 warming centers for people who do not have shelter, according to Nim Kidd, the chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management. Click here for a list of warming centers in Texas.

In Bexar County, libraries, community centers and senior centers will act as warming centers. Click here for a list of warming centers in this area.

“There’s no reason for people to stay cold in their home with all of the warming centers that we have across the state,” Kidd said.

Kidd warned people about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning in their homes. He gave the following tips:

  • People should never run a generator inside their homes.
  • People should never run a car inside the garage with the garage door closed.
  • If people are going to have gas or wood-burning appliances inside the house, make sure there is ventilation.
  • People should check their emergency supplies now to make sure they are prepared before the cold front hits.

Stay up to date on the forecast by visiting the KSAT Weather Authority page or downloading KSAT’s weather app.

Read also:

About the Author

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

Recommended Videos