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Texas court dodges saying whether grid operator can be sued

By March 20, 2021No Comments

The Texas Supreme Court sidestepped a ruling Friday on whether the state’s embattled power grid operator that remains under fire following February’s deadly blackouts can be sued.

The 5-4 decision comes a month after one of the worst power outages in U.S. history, which left millions of people without electricity for days in subfreezing weather. More than 50 people died, a toll that authorities say will likely climb as autopsies are completed.

The ruling was criticized by Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, who called it wasting “everyone’s time” at a moment when interest is high following the storm. The question of whether the Electric Reliability Council of Texas is immune to lawsuits was raised not by the recent blackouts but by an unrelated case that has dragged on for years.

The majority ruled that they had no jurisdiction in that case, making any determination moot.

Wrongful death lawsuits have piled up since the storm, and ERCOT faces an overhaul from state lawmakers. Outgoing CEO Bill Magness has claimed the outages were necessary to avert an event more catastrophic blackout that could have lasted for months.

Magness was fired, and several ERCOT board members have also resigned.