AUSTIN – As extreme winter weather begins to impact the state of Texas, members of the Texas Emergency Management Council hosted a media briefing call this afternoon to discuss the state's preparation efforts.
To keep Texans informed of the state's preparations and response to this weather event, representatives from the following agencies provided updates: Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Department of Transportation, Public Utility Commission of Texas, Electric Reliability Council of Texas, and the Railroad Commission of Texas.
In addition to highlighting state agency response efforts, Texas Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd stressed the importance of personal preparedness.
"Ensuring Texas families have enough food, water, and other supplies for the duration of this weather event is a critical component to staying safe this week," Chief Kidd stated. "Just as state agencies are preparing, I urge Texans to make a plan, communicate that plan, and implement that plan when necessary."
Chief Kidd urged Texans to use extreme caution during the wintry weather, be wary of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, and follow guidance from local officials. TDEM’s State Emergency Operations Center (SOC) is activated at Level 2 (Escalated Response) in support of winter weather— staffed for 24-hour operations.
Additional key points included:
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) leadership urged drivers to avoid roadways as conditions worsen. All DPS regions are activated to provide support to local law enforcement.
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) crews are working around the clock to treat bridges and major thoroughfares around the state in an effort to minimize ice accumulation. Over half a billion gallons of brine have already been used as road treatment. Drivers are urged to minimize travel as winter weather moves through the state and may visit DriveTexas.org to check road current conditions.
Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) emphasized the possibility of significant ice accumulation that could affect power lines and cause local power outages— these should be reported by customers to local power companies directly.
"I understand the concern and the anxiety after the tragedy of last year, but folks should know that we have implemented more reforms in this electric grid than any other electric grid has ever done in such a short amount of time," PUC Chairman Peter Lake said during the briefing. "We've passed winterization standards that meet and exceed federal standards, and we've developed an entire toolbox of resources that we can bring to bear to ensure reliability and make sure Texans are safe and warm during this winter event."
The PUC, working with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), are collaborating on a new model of coordination and communications with power companies to ensure reliability and avoid power outages during this event. Consumers are urged to visit the PUC website to check power outages across the state.
Interim ERCOT CEO Brad Jones emphasized that currently forecasted supply exceeds forecasted demand on the system. He reiterated that if a need for consumers to conserve arises, ERCOT will make the proper announcements as far in advance as possible.
RRC has hosted and continues to host operational calls with major producers, pipeline companies and gas utilities this week leading up to the weather event, sharing that no major problems are anticipated within the industry.
Texans seeking winter weather resources can visit tdem.texas.gov and locate the February Winter Weather section.