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Texas governor details plan to restore power as millions suffer through brutal winter storm

Texas governor on plan to restore power
Texas governor details plan to restore power as millions suffer through brutal winter storm 15:46

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday detailed his plans to restore power to the millions of residents who have had to go without amid a brutal and deadly winter storm. As temperatures remain well below freezing, the state has faced criticism for the widespread outages that have left many Texans struggling to stay warm.

As of Wednesday morning, nearly 3 million households did not have power.

Abbott said nearly 40,000 megawatts of power remain offline, due to mechanical problems, lack of gas and weather issues. But he added that as of midnight, 6,000 megawatts — enough to provide power to about 1.2 million homes, he said — have been added to the grid, and he said thousands of more megawatts were likely to be added soon.

The governor also announced that he has signed an order that will stop businesses from selling natural gas outside of the state, and will instead mandate that the fuel be sold to in-state power generators. 

"I understand that people are angry that this has happened... Let us get the power back on," CEO Bill Magness of ERCOT, the power utility that supplies most of Texas, told CBS News.

Texas is the only state that has its own power grid. The grid is not regulated by the federal government, and many have blamed the lack of federal regulation for its failure during the storm.

Abbott has promised an investigation into the utility. Magness said he welcomed the investigation, but he defended the utility's handling of the crisis.

"I think the fundamental decisions that our operators made very likely could have prevented a catastrophic blackout," Magness said. "The outcome of preventing that catastrophic blackout, unfortunately, turned out to be a long period of outages like we have not seen before."

"It's a very terrible time to be in that situation with the weather we're having especially, but we will get those services back up," he added. "We will get those folks, their power on. It's the number one priority now to do it."

The South braces for more freezing temperatures 01:19

The plunging temperatures have also led to water troubles, as pipes burst and water treatment plants lost power. Millions of Texans are now under a boil water order, officials said Wednesday.

The storm has also been blamed for at least 24 deaths, 11 of which occurred in Texas, officials said.

Abbott has also faced criticism for his handling of the crisis. In a statement Wednesday night, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said that "Texas is in dire straits. Texans are dying. Homes are being destroyed, people are cold and hungry, and we have no idea when things will begin to return to normal because our state Government continues to fail."

Omar Villafranca contributed reporting.

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