TX Supreme Court Sidesteps ERCOT Accountability
The question of whether Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is immune to lawsuits was raised not only by the recent blackouts but by an unrelated case that has dragged on for years. And last week, the Texas Supreme Court continued to sidestep the issue in a 5-4 decision, ruling the court has no jurisdiction.
The decision comes a month after subfreezing weather left more than 50 people dead and counting, as millions of people had no electricity for days, one of the worst power outages in U.S. history.
Wrongful death lawsuits have piled up since the storm, and ERCOT faces an overhaul from state lawmakers. All the suits allege grid operators didn’t do enough to prevent the blackouts that affected nearly 5 million Texans.
Justice Jeffrey Boyd wrote, because of some legal wrangling surrounding the cases in front of the court of appeals, the nine justices don’t have the legal authority to make a decision on the case.
“However much as we may desire to provide answers in these now-moot interlocutory proceedings, the constitution prohibits us from doing so,” Boyd wrote.
In a strongly worded dissent, Justice Eva Guzman said it was a case of immense importance that the Court had a duty to settle, adding the panel had abandoned its constitutional responsibility.
Chief Justice Nathan Hecht also dissented, writing the “Court is simply wrong,” adding this decision is a waste of time and resources.
“The parties want to know. The public wants to know. The Court refuses to answer,” Hecht said.