The CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas told state lawmakers Thursday that while he feels "remorse" over the widespread power outages linked to dozens of deaths during winter storms last week, he would not have done anything differently in the crisis.
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Texans are demanding answers as to why ERCOT, the entity that manages Texas' power grid, implemented extended blackouts for millions of citizens in the energy-rich state despite having advanced warning of dangerously low temperatures and snow storms.
Bill Magness, president and CEO of the non-profit, was grilled with questions during a Texas State Senate Business and Commerce Committee hearing, and asked to explain his actions.
According to NBC News, Magness blamed natural gas supply issues as the cause of the problems, telling committee Chair John Whitmire (D), "It's our job to keep the grid balanced, and if I'm looking at it, the problem was at the sites of the various generation."
"I'd just say, I feel a great deal of responsibility and remorse about the event," the CEO said, "but I believe the operators on our team did everything they could have."
Whitmire pressed, "But you wouldn't have changed anything in terms of your play calling during those critical hours?"
"As I sit here now, I don't believe I would," Magness replied. "I wouldn't step in front of them and question their judgment and their experience."
He added that if it emerges that neglect occurred, it would be "on me."
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Magness explained during an ERCOT board meeting Wednesday that while his organization manages the power grid, it does not "operate or have authority over electric generators." The CEO has repeatedly said that if ERCOT had not conducted outages, a longer-term blackout across the state would have occurred.
ERCOT has faced intense public scrutiny over the devastating power grid failures that left much of Texas without power and water, resulting in what is estimated to be at least 30 deaths — including that of an 11-year-old boy who is believed to have succumbed to hypothermia after days without power in his family's mobile home.
The day before Magness' hearing before the Senate committee, four out-of-state ERCOT board members resigned amid backlash after it was revealed that one third of the board of directors did not live in Texas and therefore did not experience the impact of the outages.
Prior to Mangess testimony Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) delivered his own immediate plan for action in the aftermath of the power failures, including investigating providers about costs, adding more power to the grid, and overhauling ERCOT, KENS-TV reported.
Gov. Abbott says ERCOT should be overhauled as executives testify before the Texas House www.youtube.com