Public Utility Commission of Texas investigating ‘ERCOT grid event’ following state-wide power failure

The commission will work to discover factors that disrupted power to millions of Texans

‘Avoided a catastrophic blackout’: ERCOT head defends decision to shed power from grid

AUSTIN – The Public Utility Commission of Texas is launching an investigation into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ grid failure following the winter storm.

According to a release from the commission, the group will look at “the factors that combined with the winter weather to disrupt the power to millions of Texas homes.”

Additionally, the commission unanimously approved a series of steps designed to protect retail electric customers feeling the financial effects of the ERCOT grid event.

DeAnn Walker, chairman of the commission, said the PUC will work to discover why the power failure happened and will work to help protect electricity customers.

“The immediate impact of this terrible weather was the loss of power for millions of Texas households and the financial aftershocks could be devastating,” Walker said. “We must act swiftly to discover not only how this crisis came together, but also take meaningful steps to protect electricity customers.”

According to Walker, one of the top priorities of the commission was the decision to waive deadlines surrounding the Provider of Last Resort program, in which retail electric providers volunteer to accept the customers of other REPs exiting the market.

These “volunteer” REPs are required to charge a competitive rate, rather than the higher so-called “POLR rate.” The changes include:

  • Extending the registration deadline for REPs willing to serve as volunteer providers in order to expand the pool of available providers.
  • Delaying customer transitions to volunteer providers until Wednesday, February 24, 2021 to allow the new POLR REPs time to register and prepare for the influx of new customers.

The commission has delegated the authority to Thomas Gleeson, the commission’s executive director, to execute the plan.

“This week’s weather and associated grid crisis were a nightmare for millions of Texas,” Gleeson said. “While the financial implications may drive some retail electric providers from the marketplace, we will work to ensure their customers can easily transition to a new provider. Customers transitioned to a volunteer provider should contact the new provider to ensure they are on a plan that suits their budget.”

Related: President Biden partially approves Gov. Abbott’s request for major disaster declaration


About the Author:

Jakob Rodriguez is a digital journalist at KSAT 12. He's a graduate of Texas State University, where he served as the editor-in-chief of the student-run newspaper, The University Star.