ERCOT CEO Defends Actions Leading Up to Winter Storm, Record Outages

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ERCOT's CEO is defending his actions in the days leading up to the energy crisis in Texas after NBC 5 Investigates raised serious questions about the agency's planning for this winter storm.

Thursday afternoon, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) unleashed his frustration on ERCOT, the nonprofit agency that ensures Texas has enough electricity.

"What happened this week to our fellow Texans is unacceptable and can never again," said Abbott. "It's especially unacceptable when you realize what ERCOT told the state of Texas."

Abbott cited the information NBC 5 Investigates first reported Wednesday night, that just five days before the storm hit ERCOT CEO Bill Magness assured his board of directors that the state's power plants were winterized and ready to weather the storm.

NBC 5 Investigates obtained a recording of the meeting on ERCOT's website where Magness said, "Operations has issued an operating condition notice just to make sure everyone is up to speed with their winterization. And we're ready for the several days of pretty frigid temperatures to come our way."

Magness spent just 37 seconds discussing the impending storm in that meeting during his 27-minute presentation to the board and he seemed to indicate there were no concerns.

"I didn't mean to convey unconcerned, I think it was the first thing I mentioned when I started briefing the board," Magness said in a briefing Thursday.

Magness added that his team sent multiple notices to power plants in the days after that meeting as the weather forecast became more clear.

"If what I said indicated we weren't concerned, I really was just trying to notify the board that this is something we got to keep an eye on because it's coming at us," Magness said. "But we did the all the technical notifications to the actual folks in the field doing the work, I think several times and with increasing urgency."

Magness also defended his agency's winter assessment published in September which assured the state there would be plenty of power to get through any major winter storm.

On Thursday, Magness said that document was based on modeling from the 2011 storm, the worst winter storm the state had experienced before this week.

"This one changes the game because it was so much bigger, so much more severe, and we've seen the impact it had," Magness said.

Abbott said ERCOT "failed" and must be reformed and that the state legislature will investigate what happened.

"Texans deserve answers about why these shortfalls occurred and how they're going to be corrected and Texans will get those answers," Abbott said.

The governor has also asked the state legislature to mandate the winterization of power plants and made that a legislative priority for the current session. As it stands today, the power plants have to submit plans showing they have a winter plan but there are no specific requirements telling them how to insulate equipment against the elements.

Abbott also said he will call for funding to make sure that the winterization occurs.

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