ERCOT CEO says Texas power grid nearly failed; Texas legislators to hold hearings Thursday

Local News

DALLAS, Texas (KETK) – The board of ERCOT held an emergency meeting Wednesday, the first of several in which the board will try and explain why millions in Texas went without power last week on some of the coldest nights ever in Texas.

Bill Magness, ERCOT CEO, said Texas came within less than five seconds from a blackout that would have caused the electric grid to be down for weeks, perhaps even months.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas controls the power grid that serves about 90% of the state. ERCOT’s preparedness for and response to the record cold, has been called into question.

“This was a devastating event,” Magness said in his opening remarks.

Texas was hit with one of the largest and longest cold spells ever, leaving ERCOT scrambling to keep the grid up and running, even as some power generators were knocked off line because of problems, he said.

During a lengthy presentation, Magness discussed preparation, communication and the challenges of keeping the grid running as the demand for power grew. He gave a slide presentation and offered a day-by-day timeline of a growing crisis.

In the most dire moments, “the entire system” was at risk of going down, he said.

Also on Wednesday, Board Chairwoman Sally Talberg, Peter Cramton, Terry Bulger, Raymond Hepper and Vanessa Anesetti-Parra announced that they are resigning from the board. None of them are residents of Texas.

They said in a resignation letter that they understood “the pain and suffering” that Texans endured and acknowledged that many had voiced objections that they do not live in Texas.

The letter said their resignations would eliminate a distraction as the board moves forward.

Monday’s meeting was the first of what will be several meetings and hearing at which ERCOT’s oversight will be closely examined.

Both Texas House and Senate committees will hold hearings beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday in Austin.

In the Senate, the Business and Commerce Committee will meet and in the House, the Committees on Energy and State Affairs will hold a joint public hearing.

Gov. Greg Abbott has made reforming ERCOT an emergency item and priority this legislative session.

During a news conference last week, Abbott said it was unacceptable that so many people were left without power.

“Reviewing the preparations and decisions by ERCOT is an emergency item so we can get a full picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions. I thank my partners in the House and Senate for acting quickly on this challenge, and I will work with them to enhance Texas’ electric grid and ensure that our state never experiences power outages like this again,” he said.

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