Corpus Christi man sues ERCOT, AEP for lack of preparation, negligence ahead of winter storms

Texas

FILE – This Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 file photo shows power lines in Houston. On Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly asserting wind turbines freezing over in the cold weather were primarily responsible for Texans losing heat and electricity this week. Failures in natural gas, coal and nuclear energy systems were responsible for nearly twice as many outages as frozen wind turbines and solar panels combined, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid, said in a press conference Tuesday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

NUECES COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Not only is Gov. Greg Abbott calling for investigations into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, one Nueces County resident is suing the council himself, claiming lack of preparation and negligence on the council’s part in the face of deadly winter storms.

Corpus Christi man Donald McCarley, who lost power in addition to more than 4 million Texans during the storms, is suing ERCOT, AEP and AEP Texas for their supposed mishandling of its operations during this time.

The lawsuit claims the demand experienced during the February 2021 winter storms wasn’t higher than the demand experienced during a typical summer season. Instead, it attributes the power failure to outdated generators.

“As energy demand rose in February 2021, the supply of energy fell as outdated power generators failed, including power generators owned and operated by Defendants AEP and AEP Texas, depriving the Texas power grid of 45,000 megawatts of energy,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit claims the energy providers could have increased production in the days leading up to the winter weather event as well as weatherized and updated equipment, “but consciously chose not to do so.”

McCarley’s lawsuit also mentions ERCOT had time to learn its lesson after previous cold weather events.

“In fact, similar cold weather events in 1989 and 2011 led to exactly the same type of rolling blackouts that have affected and continue to affect Texas residents and businesses,” the lawsuit reads.

Even though recommendations for improvements were made in both those years, the lawsuit claims ERCOT did not take measures to implement them.

ERCOT sent a statement to KXAN Saturday.

“We haven’t yet reviewed the lawsuits and will respond accordingly once we do. Our thoughts are with all Texans who have and are suffering due to this past week. However, because approximately 46% of privately-owned generation tripped offline this past Monday morning, we are confident that our grid operators made the right choice to avoid a statewide blackout,” an ERCOT spokesperson said.

On Friday, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued Civil Investigative Demands to ERCOT and other power companies like Oncor, CenterPoint Energy, Texas-New Mexico Power and AEP Texas, to look into power outages, emergency plans, pricing and more related to the winter storms.

“We will get to the bottom of this power failure, and I will tirelessly pursue justice for Texans,” Paxton said in a press release.

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