Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has called for the resignations of Public Utility Commission Chairman DeAnn Walker and Electric Reliability Council of Texas President and CEO Bill Magness.
In a statement on March 1, Patrick alleged that Walker and Magness were unprepared for the storm and failed to adequately address the challenges that Texas faced during the week of Feb. 14.
"There is no question the arctic temperatures the state experienced beginning on February 14 were historically unprecedented," Patrick said. "After almost 24 hours of testimony in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee's investigation of the power outages, including 9 hours from the Chair and the CEO, it is clear neither of them adequately addressed the challenges of this huge winter storm."
Patrick said that both he and Vistra Corporation CEO Curt Morgan were "shocked" and "surprised" by the response of provided by the PUC and ERCOT.
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"Both the PUC Chair and ERCOT CEO said they were prepared the day before the storm hit in full force, but obviously they were not," Patrick said. "In his testimony before the Senate Committee, Vistra Corporation CEO Curt Morgan stated that on February 10, the Wednesday before the storm hit, he had informed ERCOT that Vistra didn't believe ERCOT had adequate power to address the arctic temperatures and precipitation that was projected. Morgan said he was surprised ERCOT did not respond to that information with any sense of urgency. ERCOT CEO Bill Magness testified the information was not delivered to him - a critical failure of Magness' team."
Patrick went on to allege that projections made by the PUC and ERCOT did not consider that the freeze could shut down electricity generating power plants or that crews would not be able to make emergency repairs because roads would be impassable.
"Their projections did not accurately calculate the impact of diminished wind power that would be lost in the storm combined with the loss of 14,000 megawatts of power they knew would not be available due to power plants that had been shut down for maintenance," Patrick said. "These two issues alone accounted for hundreds of thousands of homes being without power and threatened a statewide blackout."
In Patrick's statement, he said that Magness and others testified that Texas was within minutes of losing the state's entire power grid, alleging that the PUC and ERCOT did not anticipate the magnitude of the storm.
"Instead, Texans and lawmakers were told there might be "rolling brownouts" of short duration along with the typical messages we get when cold weather comes to the state -- cover your plants and keep your pets inside," Patrick said. "In short, they hoped for the best instead of planning for the worst."
Patrick called into question the accuracy of the testimony given by Walker and Magness about the seriousness of the storm, and he said that he did not believe that accurate information about the dangers of the storm was given to state lawmakers.
"I do not make this call for the resignation of the PUC Chair and the ERCOT CEO lightly," Patrick said. "These are two good people who have worked very hard. ERCOT's job is to manage our electricity grid and the PUC oversees ERCOT. The lack of adequate preparation by both the ERCOT CEO and the PUC chair prior to the storm, their failure to plan for the worst-case scenario and their failure to communicate in a timely manner dictates they are not the ones to oversee the reforms needed."