ERCOT Hit With Lawsuits After Disastrous Blackouts During Winter Storm

In one of the first legal efforts attempting to hold Texas’ power grid operator accountable for catastrophic outages this week, a lawsuit filed in Nueces County on Friday blames the Electric Reliability Council of Texas for ignoring decades-old safety warnings, among other failures.

The case is likely to test ERCOT’s claim to sovereign immunity, a legal shield that guards government entities from claims. The protection is now under review by the Texas Supreme Court. At least one other lawsuit tied to the state’s power loss has been filed against ERCOT by a man in Fort Bend County recovering from COVID-19.

The Nueces County suit, filed by resident Donald McCarley, takes on ERCOT, which oversees 90% of the state’s electricity, and American Electric Power of Ohio, which runs generators here. The lawsuit claims that both companies failed to weather-proof systems and boost energy production in the weeks before the frigid blast crippled Texas.

That led to rolling blackouts that started Monday as demand for power surged and freezing temperatures knocked generators off line, depriving McCarley, who lives in Corpus Christi, and millions of other Texans of power.

McCarley was not available for comment Friday. His attorney in Dallas, Patrick Luff of the Fears Nachawati law firm, said McCarley is a “senior citizen who went through hell experiencing a lack of power and water problems’’ over the last five days. Luff declined to provide other details, saying his legal team is still reviewing all the damage McCarley suffered.

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SOURCE: The Dallas Morning News, Miles Moffeit