Texas Power Grid Operator Fires CEO After Deadly Outages

Kimberly Redmond  |

Video source: YouTube, WFAA

In the wake of a deadly winter storm that left millions of Texans without electricity, Bill Magness, the chief executive officer and president of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has reportedly been fired

During an emergency meeting Wednesday night, ERCOT’s board of directors voted in favor of issuing a 60-day termination notice to Magness, who has headed up the organization since 2016, and to begin an immediate search for a new chief executive officer.  

The move follows fierce criticism from state legislators and the general public that ERCOT – a non-profit that operates 90% of the state’s electric grid – did not properly plan for or warn Texans about severe winter weather conditions that wound up killing at least 47 people. 

The mid-February storm temporarily knocked out up to half of the state’s generating plants, triggering widespread outages that left millions of homes without power and water as the region faced freezing temperatures, ice and snow.

Since then, seven members of ERCOT’s board have stepped down and calls have been growing for Magness to resign.  

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“ERCOT’s decision to oust CEO Bill Magness signals accountability for the disaster that swept through our state two weeks ago,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“No Texan should have been left without power for long periods in such dire circumstances. This is a solid step toward justice for Texans and offers the opportunity for new leadership that can more efficiently prepare and direct our state’s power resources when dangerous weather strikes,” Paxton said.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has called for heads of ERCOT and the Texas Public Utility Commission to resign, also welcomed the move and said the state legislature can now focus on “fixing what went wrong."  

During a legislative hearing last Thursday into the power failures, Magness defended ERCOT’s handling of the situation, arguing that the “suffering we saw last week would be compounded” and customers would have lost power for weeks had operators not acted as they did.” 

Prior to becoming chief executive officer, a post for which he earned $803,000 annually, Magness worked at ERCOT for over a decade in several executive positions, including general counsel.  

Magness said late Thursday night that he would not accept the severance to which he was entitled, which would have amounted to one year's salary.

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Source: Equities News

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