The financial damage from the deadly Texas blackouts is quickly spreading
By Rebecca Carballo & Mark Curriden March 1, 2021
The financial damage of the recent power crisis is quickly spreading, rolling across retail power companies, electric cooperatives and the state’s grid manager itself.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which runs the state’s wholesale power markets, acknowledged Monday that it is short some $1.6 billion needed to pay generators as electricity buyers default after brutal winter weather sent prices skyrocketing.
ERCOT has already barred the retail electricity company Griddy, which missed a required payment, from participating in the state’s wholesale markets. Similar actions are expected against other retail providers that were swamped by prices that hit $9,000 per megawatt hour — the state maximum — and stayed there during the power emergency, analysts said.
Meanwhile, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, the largest generation and transmission cooperative in Texas, filed for bankruptcy Monday as it became overwhelmed with the costs of buying electricity and natural gas at exorbitant prices during the winter storm.
Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, based in Waco, listed debts of some $4.5 billion, including $1.8 billion to ERCOT, $480 million to Bank of America and another $2.1 billion in an invoice from ERCOT, which the co-op disputes.
Analysts expect wholesale power buyers to follow Brazos into bankruptcy court. Frank McCamant, owner of McCamant Consulting of Austin, said he expects retail electricity providers and other cooperatives to seek bankruptcy protection as ERCOT moves to collect bills. ERCOT sent out some $20 billion in invoices after the storm.