Reflecting on Texas power outage, ERCOT CEO says he wouldn’t do anything differently

Eleanor Dearman
·2 min read

This is a developing story. Check back for updates throughout the hearing.

Texas lawmakers on Thursday vowed to get to the bottom of what went wrong when millions lost power during a winter storm.

“To call this unacceptable would be an understatement,” said Rep. Chris Paddie, a Marshall Republican who chairs the House’s State Affairs committee.

Senate and House committees convened Thursday to hear from energy industry officials, including those from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the Public Utility Commission.

Testifying before the Senate Business and Commerce committee, ERCOT CEO Bill Magness said the outages were necessary to prevent a complete blackout across the state.

“I feel a great deal of responsibility and remorse about the event,” Magness said as he was grilled by Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston. “We’ll continue to investigate and be investigated, but I believe the operators on our team did everything they could have.”

Whitmire cut him off: “You wouldn’t have changed anything in terms of your play calling during those critical hours?”

“As I sit here now, I don’t think I would,” Magness said, adding he wouldn’t want to question the operators’ judgment and experience.

“If we listen to all the tapes, and we look at all the evidence and there were things they should have done differently, that should certainly be on me, because I’m ultimately responsible for the company,” Magness said.

Curt Morgan, the CEO of Irving-based Vistra Corp., told a House committee that the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant in Glen Rose was three minutes from tripping offline last week.

In the days leading up to the storm, Morgan said his company reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott, oil and gas regulators and Sen. Kelly Hancock about needing to communicate with the public, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

The simultaneous hearings come after millions of Texans experienced outages that were initially branded as “rolling” but lasted hours and days for many. Lawmakers asked pointed questions as they probed witnesses about the preparation for the winter storm and the response once it covered much of the state.