ERCOT

ERCOT's Rolling Blackouts Draw First Lawsuit; AG Vows Probe

Federal regulators have opened an inquiry into what caused the massive power outages across Texas. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) confirms it will investigate along with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. FERC is the same agency that examined the last major winter power outage in Texas in 2011, and then offered recommendations aimed at preventing a repeat in the future.

The rolling blackouts that left much of Texas cold and thirsty have spawned their first lawsuit Friday.

The lawsuit filed Friday in a Nueces County court at law in Corpus Christi alleges the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, manager of the state's main electric grid, ignored repeated warnings of weaknesses in the state's electric power infrastructure. A Dallas law firm's statement says its lawsuit also accuses ERCOT and American Electric Power utility of causing property damage and business interruptions during this week's cold wave.

"The resulting widespread property damage from blackouts was caused by their negligence and gross negligence. In addition, the disruptions rendered private property unusable and amounted to an illegal `taking' of private property by the government," said the law firm's statement.

Also, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued civil investigative demands to ERCOT and electric utility companies, vowing "to the bottom of this power failure." The investigation will cover power outages, emergency plans, energy pricing and more related to the winter storm.

"The large-scale failure of Texas power companies to withstand the winter storm left multiple millions of Texans without power and heat during lethal, record-low temperatures across the state," said a statement from Paxton's office.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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