ERCOT Leader Notes System Improvements After February Power Outages

ERCOT interim director spoke to residents at "listening tour" in Coppell

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The man in charge of the agency that manages the Texas power grid said Monday that the state has made many improvements since widespread outages in February left millions of people in the dark for days and vowed the situation would be handled much better in the future.

Brad Jones, the interim director of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, appeared at Coppell City Hall as part of a “listening tour.”

He got an earful from residents.

"The messaging was horrible,” said one woman who lost power for 12 hours at a time and couldn’t get accurate information about rolling outages.

"I lived in Minnesota for six winters and you know what? It got 25 and 30 degrees below zero,” one man said. “We never had any problems."

Jones, who wasn't the director at the time and came out of retirement to lead the agency temporarily, blamed part of the problem on the extraordinary weather.

"The last time an event like this happened was I believe in 1895, that it was this cold across all of Texas, north to south, east to west,” Jones said.

But he was also candid, admitting that too many generating plants were knocked out, and Texas wasn't ready with a backup plan.

"It was completely inadequate in a 2021 winter,” Jones said. “It was obvious."

In an interview with NBC 5 Investigates' Scott Friedman, Jones stressed many improvements have been made since February.

But he stopped short of promising it will never happen again.

"I would not say there's not a possibility that there are some outages and we will manage those outages in a much better way than we did the last time around,” Jones said. “We will be able to keep customers from being off more than an hour at a time, for example."

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