HOUSTON — The fact that Texas was unprepared for a major winter storm was obvious, with many still recovering nearly three weeks after it hit.
“I've heard it's a 120-year event, but we need to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature is going to throw at us,” said Texas Senator John Cornyn in a Friday morning interview with KHOU 11.
Governor Greg Abbott has asked the legislature that’s meeting now to mandate winterization, making sure Texas power makers protect their equipment from the elements. Sen. Cornyn said it may be time for the federal government to step in.
“We're trying to figure out what the federal government can do to help states like Texas weatherize their infrastructure,” he said. “This is not just the state of Texas issue. Our critical infrastructure of the grid is important to protect for economic and national security reasons, too. So we're working on a bipartisan basis here in Congress, hopefully to come up with a grant program that will help all the states get better prepared against threats like this.”
Ninety percent of Texas is on its own electric grid. Part of the reason is to avoid federal oversight.
“I'm not exactly sure what the regulatory regime needs to look like,” Sen. Cornyn said. "That's one of the things that I hope will come out of the Texas legislature. But we can help supplement that effort with this winterization.”
If the state mandates winterization, Sen. Cornyn said in the end, we’re going to be paying that bill.
“I think ultimately the customers are going to have to pick up the tab,” he said. “The money is not free, obviously. But I think we want to work together with the industry, with the state and the federal government, to figure out what the right balance is.”
The Texas-size level of “unprepared” can’t happen again. Only actions will restore the confidence that it won’t.
“It takes a lot more than just rhetoric and words,” Sen. Cornyn said. “It takes action, and I think we owe Texans that.”