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Texas AG Ken Paxton issues civil investigative demands to ERCOT, other power companies

Cameron Drummond
Austin American-Statesman
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is being sued by four former and current members of his own senior staff who claim that his office retaliated against them after they notified him and federal authorities in early October that they believed he engaged in several crimes, including bribery and improper influence in dealings with Austin investor Nate Paul.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has issued civil investigative demands to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and 11 power companies related to the power outages, emergency plans, energy pricing and other factors associated with last week’s winter weather disaster in the state.

In a press release Friday, Paxton said he's launching an investigation into ERCOT and other entities that “grossly mishandled this week’s extreme winter weather,” leaving millions of Texans to endure sub-freezing temperatures without power or heat for several days.

“While Texans pulled together to get their communities through this disaster, they were largely left in the dark,” Paxton said in the release. “We will get to the bottom of this power failure and I will tirelessly pursue justice for Texans.”

In addition to ERCOT, the 11 power companies that Paxton issued civil investigative demands to were: AEP Texas, Calpine Corporation, CenterPoint Energy Services, Griddy Energy, La Frontera Holdings, Luminant Generation Company, NRG Texas Power, Oncor Electric Delivery Company, Panda Sherman Power, Temple Generation I and the Texas-New Mexico Power Company. 

The civil investigative demands require ERCOT and those companies to produce data and documents related to the winter weather disaster by March 15.

Paxton’s action is the latest in the already ensuing legal fallout from last week’s storm and power failures.

A Corpus Christi man has filed a lawsuit against ERCOT accusing it of failing to maintain and winterize its infrastructure for the anticipated spike in energy use this past week and to take corrective action once systems began to fail.

Also on Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott fielded questions about ERCOT and suggested the state could provide funding to better winterize power plants.

The governor has already ordered the Legislature to investigate ERCOT.

"We want to make sure that whatever happened in ERCOT falling short never happens again," Abbott said Friday.