April 1, 2021

Gov. Greg Abbott to CEOs: Texas Legislature committed to fixing power grid

AUSTIN —Texas is addressing power, water, broadband and transportation infrastructure to ensure it can support rapid growth in the future, Gov. Greg Abbott assured global business decision-makers Wednesday at a fireside chat sponsored by the Texas Economic Development Corp.

The primary infrastructure issue facing Texas today is the electrical grid, said TxEDC President and CEO Robert Allen, who hosted the fireside chat. The 87th Texas Legislature is considering bills that would address issues that crippled the grid during February’s catastrophic winter storm. Allen asked Abbott what message he has for CEOs thinking about relocating to Texas to allay their concerns about the reliability of the state’s electricity grid.

“The message is clear and that is: We are not going to end this legislative session without ensuring that all the laws are passed that needed to be passed to ensure that we never go through an episode like this again,” Abbott said.

The Legislature is also considering bills that would ensure the state can meet the state’s future power needs.

“With so many people moving into Texas and with so many businesses coming here, there’s going to be future demand for more power than what we are currently generating. That is why we will not leave this session without passing legislation to ensure we have sufficient power generating capacity for all the businesses that are moving here,” he said.

The state is also planning infrastructure improvements to the transportation systems — roads, highways, airports and ports — as well as water supply, sources and storage. Abbott has also made statewide broadband access a legislative priority this session. State funds would be earmarked for these infrastructure improvements, he said.

Texas, if it were a country, would be the ninth largest economy in the world. Latest figures show that even during the pandemic, Texas’ Gross Domestic Product rose at an annual rate of 7.5% as of the fourth quarter of 2020, Abbott said.

Texas’ track record of economic success continues to attract significant interest from CEOs interested in relocating and expanding, and his office continues to actively cultivate this interest. This makes responding to CEO concerns a priority.

“They urgently want to come here because of what Texas has to offer,” he said. “But if we get complacent, we will lose those economic opportunities.”

Abbott has a clear message for these CEOs from the United States and other nations around the world. “First, we want you here,” he said, adding that CEOs have told him the governors of other states have turned away their business.

“The second step is to let them know we will do whatever needs to be done to make sure they are successful when they come here,” Abbott said. “We make it clear that there is no state in which a business can succeed better than the state of Texas.”

Allen thanked the 70 attendees of  Wednesday’s Spring Investor Meeting and Fireside Chat.

“We all know how difficult the last year has been,” Allen told investors, which include company CEOs and leaders of the state’s regional and local economic development organizations. “We cannot do what we do, in marketing the state of Texas, without each of you — all of you — working together. Thank you for your support. We are eternally grateful for it. We are especially grateful coming out of the pandemic.”