Abbott names ERCOT billing error correction as emergency legislative item

FILE - This Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, file photo shows power lines in Houston. When an unusually heavy winter storm blanketed much of Texas with snow, knocking out electricity to millions of homes and leaving many struggling to find clean water, one sector of the population was particularly vulnerable: inmates in Houston at the state's largest county jail. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File) (David J. Phillip, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared the correction of any billion-dollar errors related to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas as an emergency item for the 87th Legislative Session, according to a release.

The emergency items include any inaccurate excessive charges or any issues regarding additional service prices after February’s deadly winter storm in Texas.

Abbott’s announcement came after the Public Utility Commission said it will not fix ERCOT’s $16 billion billing mistake.

In Texas, wholesale power prices are determined by supply and demand: When demand is high, ERCOT allows prices to go up. During the storm, PUC directed the grid operator to set wholesale power prices at $9,000 per megawatt-hour -- the maximum price. Raising prices is intended to incentivize power generators in the state to add more power to the grid. Companies then buy power from the wholesale market to deliver to consumers, which they are contractually obligated to do.

Extended freezing weather made that impossible because it knocked a large portion of the state’s electricity generation offline.

ERCOT maintained its highest level of emergency alert until the morning of Feb. 19 -- five days after the storm initially struck the state.

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