The board that oversees ERCOT held an urgent meeting Wednesday morning to discuss the winter storm that crippled most of Texas last week. They apologized for the havoc the blackouts caused and pledged to gather the facts to help lawmakers determine how to prevent them from ever occurring again.
CEO of ERCOT, Bill Magness His own board of directors asked questions about why these blackouts were so severe and why the agency could not predict such a devastating outcome before the storm.
“I mean, we saw something here that beats any extreme scenario,” said Magness.
In an online presentation to the ERCOT board, Magness Foils An updated analysis shows that almost half of the generating units (48.6%) are in the state they were shut down at the height of the outages.
All of this was caused by what he called a weather system larger than anything the agency’s forecasters had ever predicted, and challenged the forecasting models used to predict winter weather and the state’s electricity needs.
“This is the kind of thing that, as you know, moves the number one goalpost, so we need to know that if we look at extremes, we can see an event in February 2021,” Magness said.
ERCOT’s weather data shows the Dallas / Fort Worth area has been below freezing for over 140 hours. That’s 40 hours longer than the 2011 winter storm that led to power outages.
This time around, electricity demand hit a record high while all types of power plants – and even natural gas supply lines to some facilities – were shut down in the cold and ERCOT was forced to order outages to prevent a far worse collapse of the entire power system.
A table presented at the meeting shows that Texas was less than five minutes away from a power outage that could have paralyzed the power system for weeks or months.
Magness expressed frustration at the meeting about how long it took to get some power plants back on track. The graphs shared today showed that many were unable to restart for days and that made this such a devastating crisis that lost lives and damaged homes.
A board member criticized Magness today, saying he had not done enough to warn the board of the possibility of a crisis ahead of the storm.
“As a board member, I am very frustrated that this did not happen,” said the board member. Jacqueline A. Sargent. “And I just wanted to make that statement.”
As NBC 5 Investigates first reportedERCOT’s audio recordings show that Magness spent less than a minute discussing the impending storm at the final board meeting just five days before the storm
Today he apologized.
“I could certainly have done a better job of emphasizing what was to come and deepening that communication with the board as well. So I understand your frustration, ”said Magness.
On Thursday he will face further questions from lawmakers in both the House and Senate. The beginning of what some, including Dallas State Senator Nathan Johnson, describe as the beginning of an information mission.
“It is certainly possible that ERCOT made decisions or did not make decisions that it should have and I have some information on that. But until I have complete information I am not making a judgment. There are many other players in the process . Both privately and publicly, “said Johnson.
A fifth ERCOT board member resigned today, along with four others who announced their resignation yesterday They wanted to avoid controversy about living in other states.