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Texas lawmakers question energy leaders about power crisis for the second day in a row

Texas House and Senate committees will continue to question energy leaders about the power crisis that left millions of Texans without power for days.

AUSTIN, Texas — For the second day, Texas lawmakers will hear from energy experts about the factors that led to statewide power outages during winter storms last week.

Thursday's joint hearing lasted 15 hours, as it went from 9 a.m. to midnight. During the hearing CEOs of energy companies were questioned, including Curt Morgan, the Vistra CEO. 

Morgan said the entire Texas grid was within minutes of total collapse under the strain of unprecedented demand last week.

He apologized before the Texas House Committee on State Affairs and Energy Resources. He took questions for 4 and half hours and at one point said, “We’ve damaged our credibility, we let you down, we let ourselves down.”

"We could not solve the riddle of a winter storm. And for that, I'm very sorry, and I think there's accountability to be shared by many in this, including my company. And I hope, to do better," he said. 

RELATED: Power outages lead to staggering $900M financial hit for Irving-based Vistra Energy

Much of Thursday's meeting was about what communications and actions took place in the days leading up to the storm. Morgan said part of the problem was a failure to communicate the severity of the situation to the public once it becomes apparent how devastating the freeze would be. 

The hearing also addressed the lack of communication between the energy companies themselves, ERCOT, and the Public Utility Commission. Morgan said the big story in all of this was how the gas systems failed.

"70 percent of our generation in this state is done, is performed by natural gas, and we do not have an integrated and seamless gas and power system. And if we don't have a seamless gas and electric power system, what happened last week will happen again," he said. 

President and CEO of ERCOT Bill Magness told the senators the winter storm took out 48% of ERCOT's power generation, so companies had to significantly cut usage and, when they did, they couldn't move the power around. 

"I think the reason we haven't seen a situation where you couldn't rotate outages is because the amount of load we shed was so large that I bet, in most places where you had to shed that much and you're in these conditions, they had a blackout," Magness said. "It's hard to hold together."

Magness admitted communication with the public needed to be better. 

More CEOs are expected to be questioned Friday. 

 

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