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O’Rourke Belittles Abbott Over Texas Grid’s Problems During Heat Wave

Texas is facing fierce heat waves, driving energy demand to record highs.

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks to a crowd supporting gun control across from the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting on May 27, 2022 in Houston, Texas.

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic nominee for governor in Texas, condemned current Gov. Greg Abbott (R) for his handling of numerous energy crises throughout the past year.

Texas is currently facing a heat wave, which is causing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) energy grid to reach record high power demand. ERCOT said on Sunday that outages were not expected in the near future, but warned state residents to limit their usage of electricity between the hours of 2 and 8 pm on Monday to avoid overloading the system.

Meanwhile, some cities have contradicted ERCOT’s claims that outages aren’t a possibility. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, for example, has ordered the city’s departments to ready themselves for outages by preparing backup generators in the event that power goes out.

The warning from ERCOT, in addition to problems the Texas grid has had during recent winters — coupled with Abbott’s refusal so far to make substantial changes to the system — led O’Rourke to deride the incumbent governor on Twitter.

“The governor of the 9th largest economy on earth — the energy capital of the world — can’t guarantee the power will stay on tomorrow,” O’Rourke said. “We need change.”

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate continued criticizing ERCOT and Abbott in another tweet.

“We can’t rely on the grid when it’s hot. We can’t rely on the grid when it’s cold. We can’t rely on Greg Abbott,” O’Rourke said. “It’s time to vote him out and fix the grid.”

ERCOT runs independently of the national energy grid system. Because of this, Texas is able to largely avoid federal energy regulations when it comes to its own grid, including upgrades to its systems and weatherization projects that federal regulations may require elsewhere in the U.S.

ERCOT’s problems don’t just happen in the summertime — in February 2021, for example, the power grid shut off during a winter storm, leaving millions without power for days and hundreds dead by the end of the crisis.

In another tweet over the weekend, O’Rourke reminded his followers that even after the power outages that February, Abbott continued accepting contributions from energy producers in the state.

“After [the 2021] crisis, Abbott took millions in campaign checks from energy CEOs that he allowed to profit off it. Helps explain why he won’t fix the grid,” O’Rourke wrote.

O’Rourke’s comments come as new polling suggests that Abbott is in a vulnerable position politically, leading up to their head-to-head electoral matchup later this fall. According to a University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll published earlier this month, Abbott’s approval rating is trending in negative territory, with 43 percent of Texans approving of his work as governor and 46 percent disapproving.

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