Texas utility manager rejects calls to fix $16B in overcharges

Texas’s utility manager rejected calls on Friday to fix $16 billion in overcharges that occurred amid power outages caused by last month's winter storm.

Arthur D’Andrea, chairman of the the Public Utility Commission of Texas, suggested during a commission meeting on Friday that the error would be too hard to fix, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

“It’s just nearly impossible to unscramble this sort of egg,” he said, according to the news outlet.

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D’Andrea added that any actions designed to help customers might have unintended consequences due to private transactions outside of view, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“You think you’re protecting the consumer and it turns out you’re bankrupting a co-op or a city,” D’Andrea was quoted saying.

The comments come after third-party market monitor Potomac Economics, which the state hired, concluded that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) overcharged $16 billion for electricity during the winter storm.

During the storm, ERCOT implemented controlled blackouts across the state to prevent damage to the energy grid. ERCOT CEO Bill Magness told The Texas Tribune last month that the decision was made to prevent the grid from going down. 

ERCOT set prices at a cap of $9,000 per megawatt hour during the blackouts. However, the monitor said that prices should have been reset after the controlled blackouts were over.

Texas is still dealing with the fallout of the winter storm that led to dozens of deaths, and ERCOT’s handling of the situation has since come under intense scrutiny.