The Texas power grid operator ERCOT dismisses the CEO after fatal power outages
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Winter weather caused power outages in Houston
(Reuters) – The Texas power grid operator ousted CEO Bill Magness on Wednesday as the aftermath of a deadly power outage last month that left residents with no heat, electricity or water for days persist.
His departure followed heavy criticism from lawmakers of tackling the crisis from the Texas Electric Reliability Council (ERCOT), which caused a major electricity company to file for bankruptcy and bring several others close.
The mid-February storm temporarily disabled up to half of the state’s power plants, causing outages that killed dozens of people and saw electricity prices rise ten times normal.
“ERCOT’s decision to oust CEO Bill Magness signals responsibility for the disaster that struck our state two weeks ago,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement on Twitter.
“(This move) provides the opportunity for new leadership to prepare and control our state’s resources more efficiently in dangerous weather conditions,” he added.
Texas Governor Dan Patrick, who on Monday called for the resignation of the heads of ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission, also welcomed the move.
Legislators can now begin “fixing what went wrong,” said Patrick.
ERCOT said in a statement cited by several media organizations that its board of directors had ordered Magness to be given 60 days’ notice. The board would immediately start looking for a new CEO.
Magness was grilled for hours last week to keep electricity prices up to 450 times the usual rate after the threat to the state power grid ended.
Seven of ERCOT’s 15 directors resigned last week, and the head of the state commission on public utilities that oversaw ERCOT resigned on Monday.
The winter storm caused widespread power outages across Texas, a state unused to extreme cold and at its peak turned off electricity to more than 4 million people.
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