Ex-Texas power grid chief says Abbott ordered him to charge maximum during freeze

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The former head of the Texas power grid on Wednesday testified that he was ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott to keep power prices at the maximum price cap during last winter’s winter storm, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Driving the news: Bill Magness, the former CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said that former Public Utility Commission Chair DeAnn Walker told him that he was to do whatever necessary to prevent additional blackouts.

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The big picture: Power prices were kept at the maximum of $9,000 per megawatt hour, more than 150 times normal prices, during last winter’s storm, per the Chronicle.

Worth noting: Magness’ decision is now part of a bankruptcy trial brought by the electric co-op Brazos Electric, which says the decision to raise power prices was made recklessly and that the $1.9 billion power bill it got from ERCOT pushed it out of business.

  • Magness, who was fired last year, previously maintained his actions to keep power prices at the maximum price cap were necessary to prevent the grid from slipping into a total blackout.

  • The decision was aimed at encouraging large power users like factories to stay offline, per the Chronicle.

A spokesperson for Abbott did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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