The Big Texas Shootout: Where Did The Deep Freeze Money Go?
Llewellyn King, 15 March 2021
The shootout is a deeply revered piece of Texas mythology, even though the most famous shootout of all was in Arizona at the O.K. Corral. In fact, only half a dozen public disputes which were settled with the gun took place in Texas, but the myths endure and are cherished.
A shootout of another type has started in Texas — one which will last longer than any brief gunplay and will substitute legal briefs for bullets. This dispute is over the exorbitant charges for power generated during the mid-February deep freeze.
The first to draw was Brazos, the state’s oldest and largest electric power cooperative, which filed for bankruptcy. Some think it will be the first in a long column. Then Denton, the municipally owned utility, sued the Texas grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), contesting a $200-million electric charge during the winter storm.
On March 12, San Antonio’s CPS Energy, the largest municipally owned utility in Texas, drew a bead on ERCOT and fired off a number of heavy rounds in a complaint that pitted the otherwise progressive and low-key utility against ERCOT.
‘Illegal Wealth Transfers’
The complaint, filed in the District Court of Bexar County, seeks immediate and permanent injunctive relief. It states: “CPS Energy sues ERCOT its officers and directors, who are presiding over one of the largest illegal wealth transfers in the history of Texas.”
The lawsuit states that CPS Energy plans to conduct discovery under the Texas civil code and its purpose is to protect its customers from “excessive and illegitimate power and natural gas costs.”
CPS Energy President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams said at a press conference, “We are fighting to protect our customers from the financial impacts of the systemic failure of the ERCOT market, and the outrageous and unlawful costs associated with that failure.”
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