The ERCOT oversight board held an emergency meeting Wednesday morning to discuss the winter storm that plagued most of Texas last week. They apologized for the devastation caused by the power outage and undertook to gather the facts to help lawmakers figure out how to prevent this from happening again.
ERCOT CEO Bill Magness faced questions from his own board about why power outages were so severe and why the agency was unable to predict such a devastating outcome before the storm hit.
“I mean, we’ve seen something here that you know surpasses any extreme scenario,” Magness said.
In an online presentation to the ERCOT Board, Magness presented a slide that reveals an updated analysis showing that half of the power generation units, 48.6%, have shut down at the height of outages.
All of this was caused by a weather system he described that is greater than anything the agency’s forecasters ever predicted, questioning the forecasting models used to forecast winter weather and the state’s energy needs.
“It’s the kind of thing that, you know, moves the number one gate stick that we need to know that we can see another event in February 2021 when we look at the extremes,” Magness said.
ERCOT weather data show that the Dallas / Fort Worth area has been below or below freezing for more than 140 hours. This is 40 hours longer than the 2011 winter storm that caused rolling power outages.
This time, energy demand reached an all-time high as all types of power plants – and even some natural gas pipelines to some plants – shut down in the cold, forcing ERCOT to order power outages to prevent a more powerful collapse of the electricity system. .
One chart presented at the meeting shows that Texas was less than five minutes away from a power outage that could plague the power system for weeks or months.
Magness expressed frustration at the meeting about how long it would take to reconnect some power plants online. The graphs shared today showed for days that many were unable to restart, and this put this into a devastating crisis in which lost lives and homes were damaged.
A board member criticized Magness today, saying he did not do enough to warn the board of the possibility of a crisis before the storm occurred.
“As a board member, I feel very disappointed that this didn’t happen,” said Jacqueline A. Sargent, a board member. – And I just wanted to make that statement.
As first reported by NBC 5 Investigates, ERCOT audio recordings show that Magness spent less than a minute discussing the upcoming storm at the last board meeting, barely five days before the storm arrived.
He apologized today.
“I certainly could have done a better job of emphasizing what was coming, and I could have continued that communication with the board more deeply. So I understand your frustration, ”Magness said.
On Thursday, new questions will be faced by House and Senate lawmakers. The beginning, which some, including Nathan Johnson, the senator of the state of Dallas, characterize as the beginning of a fact-finding mission.
“It is certainly possible that ERCOT made decisions or did not make decisions as it should have, and I have some information about that. But until I have full information, I will not give a verdict. There are many other actors in this process, private and public both, ”Johnson said.
The fifth ERCOT board member resigned today, joining four others who announced their resignations yesterday, saying they want to avoid discussions about living in other states.