ERCOT Continues Power Restoration Efforts Amid Criticism

ERCOT said it hopes Texas residents will face more controlled outages that last no more than an hour by Thursday.

Video Transcript

- The state's power grid operator that he just talked about, ERCOT, says more than two million homes at the moment are still without power today. The agency says it hopes that by tomorrow customers will face controlled outages of no more than one hour at a time. What a dream that would be for so many. Our Jack Fink spoke with the head of ERCOT, who is on the hot seat about what they're doing right now and for a response to all the criticism.

BILL MAGNESS: What we're seeing is the result of a catastrophic natural weather event.

JACK FINK: Bill Magness, CEO of ERCOT, says the agency remains focused on working with providers to restore power after generation plants shutdown in ice, snow, and extended bitter cold.

BILL MAGNESS: Now they have people out working on whatever the problems are. Sometimes the problems have to do with things that broke during the storm coming in. Sometimes they have clients that they're working with that are natural gas supply providers to get that fuel to them.

JACK FINK: Independent energy experts have questioned whether or not ERCOT followed the advice from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission after a cold snap hit in 2011 to better winterize the state's power grid. While Texas' power grid is separate and isn't regulated by the feds, Magness said ERCOT did take action.

BILL MAGNESS: There was a tremendous amount of effort at the state level, as well as the federal, to look at those winterization issues and make sure those are being done better. And a lot of work went in to that. And actually, we had weather in 2018 similar to the weather we saw in 2011 in the winter. And we saw much better performance. I think, obviously, there were some challenges that weren't met this time.

JACK FINK: Some conservatives have blamed the state's reliance on wind and solar energy, but Magness said all types of plants-- whether wind, solar, nuclear, coal, and natural gas-- shut down because of the frigid weather. I asked him, what is the right combination of resources for the state?

BILL MAGNESS: I think the policy questions around, you know, what kind of mix, generation resource mix we have, whether investment in different resources is wise, certainly one that is welcome once we get the power back.

JACK FINK: Governor Abbott has called this a total failure by ERCOT. And he and state lawmakers are demanding answers. Some are calling for resignations.

BILL MAGNESS: And there should be absolutely, you know, investigations, assessments of what happened. Right now my number one priority and the number one priority of the company is to get power back on for Texans.

JACK FINK: Jack Fink, CBS 11 News.