ERCOT CEO stands by winter storm power outages, says grid could have collapsed without them

ERCOT Hearing

AUSTIN, Texas (KLTV) - In a hearing today, the Texas legislature heard from ERCOT about the mass power outages caused by last week’s winter storm.

“If we had sat there and not taken the action to level up that frequency, that’s when the bad things happen,” ERCOT CEO Bill Magness said.

Magness says they had no choice but to cut power to millions in order to avoid a massive outage that could’ve lasted months.

“Imagine, even in good weather, if it was today what we’d be seeing if it had been 10 days, 15 days since we’d had power. The suffering that we saw last week would be compounded,” Magness said.

As temperatures plummeted last week, energy use across the state soared to near record levels − usually seen during the summer.

“We just saw the available generation even then was not going to serve the load and the load we were anticipating, it wasn’t only going to bust a winter record, what we were seeing in our forecast, it could break the summer record in Texas and it’s stunning to me to even say that,” Magness said.

In the early morning hours of February 15th, the amount of generation fell to dangerous levels. For four minutes and 23 seconds, it was below 59.4 Hz. Much longer than that and the grid could have collapsed.

“Our power plants are built to handle hot weather. They’re not built, let’s be honest, they’re not built for the winter. In the north, people say well the north can do this, why can’t they do it? The reason they do it is because they actually build for the winter,” Vistra Corp. CEO Curtis Morgan said.

Throughout today’s hearing, Magness emphasized the choice they had to make. Keep the power on and jeopardize the grid, or force outages to preserve it. It’s a decision he says he wouldn’t change.

Governor Greg Abbott says the legislature will not end until the problems are solved, and they can ensure the outages experienced last week are not repeated.

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