Report: No market manipulation tied to Texas’ rolling blackouts


Rolling blackouts that left thousands of Texans without power during an early February cold blast weren’t caused by power market manipulation, the state’s independent electric market monitor concluded.

The report by Dan Jones, a consultant hired by the Texas Public Utility Commission to monitor the state’s power markets, finds no evidence that the outage of more than 100 power generation units statewide was caused by power companies trying to create price spikes.

“Based on our review of the cause of each generating unit outage and/or capacity de-ration, as well as the financial positions of market participants, we do not find any evidence of market manipulation or market power abuse,” the report concludes.

It also said the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ wholesale power markets operated as designed.

One area of improvement, however, might be in the timing of power plant maintenance schedules. Operators need to schedule maintenance work with the grid operator months in advance, and typically aim for so-called “shoulder months” between the extremes of summer and winter, when power demand is expected to be low.

Two very large units with a combined 1,500 megawatts of capacity where scheduled to go down at the time of the outages, but it does not appear ERCOT approaches those operators about putting off their plans. A 500 megawatt planned that was scheduled for maintenance was asked to defer the work, and it did, the report notes.

The power plants started to go down overnight on Feb. 2 as prolonged cold and high winds led to freezing gauges and other equipment on many power plants throughout the state.

In order to avoid long-term power outages, ERCOT called for rolling blackouts that lasted several hours for some customers.

See the full report below:

2011 April Report on Feb Blackout Manipulation

Tom Fowler

7 Responses

  1. Tom Fowler says:

    The consultant wasn’t hired by the power companies, but the state agencies that oversees the power markets here.
    Several state lawmakers asked for the report almost immediately after the blackouts.

  2. TexasBob says:

    So, if it wasn’t due to foul play, that means it’s due to energy providers not being prepared.

    Wait, that’s what was said when Ike knocked out power to over 90% of Houstionians.

  3. tj0331tx says:

    “. . .we do not find any evidence of market manipulation or market power abuse,” the report said.
    If they had to generate a report to tell us this, there must have been a case sometime in the past in which power manipulation actually did occur. that’s something I had never thought of until they felt the need to generate this report!

  4. Mudkip says:

    Wow, a consultant hired by the power companies concluded the power companies did no wrong. Color me shocked!

  5. MrOldMan says:

    Well, there it is then. It must be true.

  6. Lobousa says:

    So much for that witch hunt. Next.

  7. Zilch says:

    You have to wonder how much that report cost!