The board that oversees ERCOT held an urgent meeting Wednesday morning to discuss the winter storm that paralyzed most of Texas last week. They apologized for the devastation the power outages have caused and pledged to collect the facts to help lawmakers determine how to prevent it from happening again.
ERCOT CEO Bill Magness was faced with questions from his own board about why these power outages were so severe and why the agency was unable to predict such a devastating outcome before the storm hit.
“I mean, we saw something here that, you know, beats any extreme scenario,” Magness said.
In an online presentation to the ERCOT board, Magness displayed slides revealing an updated analysis showing that nearly half of the power generating units – 48.6% – in the state shut down at the height of the outages.
All of this caused by a weather system that he described as larger than the agency’s forecasters had ever predicted, calling into question the forecasting models used to predict winter weather and the state’s energy needs.
“This is the kind of thing that, you know, moves the goalposts, number one, so we have to know that we can see another event from February 2021 when we look at the ends,” Magness said.
ERCOT weather data shows that the Dallas / Fort Worth area was below zero or below zero for more than 140 hours. That’s 40 hours longer than the 2011 winter storm that caused continuous power outages.
This time, power demand hit an all-time high, while all types of power plants, and even natural gas supply lines to some plants, shut down in the cold, forcing ERCOT to order outages to avoid a much worse collapse of the whole plant. Power system.
A graph presented at the meeting shows that Texas was less than five minutes away from a blackout that could have paralyzed the electrical system for weeks or months.
Magness expressed frustration at the meeting over the time it took to get some power plants back online. The charts shared today showed that for days many were unable to reboot and that is what turned this into such a devastating crisis with lives lost and homes damaged.
A board member criticized Magness today saying it did not do enough to warn the board of the possibility of a crisis before the storm hit.
“As a board member, I am very frustrated that that didn’t happen,” said board member Jacqueline A. Sargent. “And I just wanted to make that statement.”
As NBC 5 Investigates first reported, ERCOT audio recordings show Magness spent less than a minute discussing the impending storm at the last board meeting just five days before the storm arrived.
Today he offered an apology.
“I certainly could have done a better job emphasizing what was coming and having that communication with the board in more depth as well. So I understand your frustration, ”Magness said.
On Thursday he will face more 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 a fact-finding mission.
“It is certainly possible that ERCOT made decisions or not made decisions that it should have, and I have some information on that. But until I have the complete information, I will not pass judgment. There are many other players in this process, both private as well as public, ”Johnson said.
A fifth member of the ERCOT board resigned today, joining four others who announced their resignation yesterday saying they wanted to avoid controversy over the fact that they live in other states.