Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee announced today his office is launching a civil investigation into the circumstances leading up to Texas’s recent electricity disaster—including decisions made by the Public Utility Commission (PUC), the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), and market participants—to identify all responsible parties.
“Members of our community died in this disaster, and millions of Texans languished without power and water while suffering billions in property damage,” said County Attorney Menefee. “Harris County residents deserve to know what happened, who made which decisions, and whether this could have been avoided or mitigated.”
Menefee will seek authority from the Harris County Commissioners Court at its meeting on Friday to take appropriate legal action on behalf of Harris County:
Request by the County Attorney for authorization to consider and file friend of court briefs or other appropriate litigation on behalf of Harris County in cases involving the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and other related entities involving the loss of power in and around Winter Storm Uri.
County Attorney Menefee added in a released statement, “We knew back in 2011, after the last hard freeze, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission put the state and the power generators on notice that the grid was underprepared for hard freeze events. There was nothing unpredictable about this last freeze, and everyone had plenty of notice it was coming. But, the people running the grid were woefully unprepared and failed to take immediate action and warn folks of what could happen. My office will conduct a comprehensive investigation into these events and take legal action where appropriate.
“I am aware state agencies are conducting their own investigation and I am willing to work with them in that process. But, Harris County government must protect its residents. My office’s investigation will focus on what went wrong with getting power to residents and facilities in this County, and the impact of those failures.”
As Harris County Attorney, Menefee is the County’s chief civil legal officer, and has the duty and the authority to represent Harris County in all civil matters including lawsuits.