Blackout investigations start up this week

On Tuesday, Texas lawmakers will begin their probes into the power emergency that led to rolling blackouts earlier this month.

The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce will hold the joint hearing at 8:30 a.m.  on Feb. 15 in Austin. They will hear from power and gas regulators and companies. The hearing schedule can be found here, or you can look at it below. A link to a live webcast of the hearing should appear on this page shortly after 8:30 a.m.

It’s interesting to note natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy will have a representative there, as well as natural gas supplier Atmos Energy, to address the contribution of a cold-induced slowdown in gas production and the role of state rules that require shifting gas supplies away from power plants to residential customers under certain emergency circumstances.

Several other investigations are in the works, including one from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and the Texas Public Utility Commission’s independent market monitor.

Power plant operators who had units crash unexpectedly have been asked by ERCOT to waive the standard 60-day confidentiality rule on outage information. Those waivers were received Friday and are being processed by ERCOT legal staff today, a spokeswoman said. If that information is released we will include it here on FuelFix.

Speakers invited to address the joint Texas Senate Natural Resources/Business and Commerce committees hearings about the Feb. 2 power emergency:

Panel 1

  • Barry Smitherman, Chairman, Public Utility Commission of Texas
  • Trip Doggett, President and CEO, Electric Reliability Council of Texas
  • Michael Williams, Commissioner, Railroad Commission of Texas
  • Bryan Shaw, Chairman, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
  • Sheri Givens, Public Counsel, Office of Public Utility Counsel

Panel 2

  • David Campbell, Chief Executive Officer, Luminant
  • Ned Ross, Director, Government Affairs, Direct Energy
  • John Ragan, Regional President, NRG

Panel 3

  • Brenda J. Pulis, Senior Vice President of Operations, Oncor
  • Wade Smith, President and Chief Operating Officer, AEP Texas
  • Larry Weis, General Manager, Austin Energy

Panel 4

  • Dick Erskine, President, Atmos Pipeline Company
  • Scott Doyle, Division Vice President, Texas Operations, Centerpoint Energy
  • Steve Turk, Vice President of Operations, Southern Division, Chesapeake Energy