Dallas-based Luminant, the state's largest electricity generator, has agreed to pay $750,000 to settle regulators' complaints that it failed to meet its obligations during a February 2011 cold snap that produced rotating blackouts. About 8,000 megawatts of generation was lost around the state as exceptionally low temperatures and wind chill factors affected power plants. In April 2012 the staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas recommended fining Luminant for its performance in 2011, saying five of 10 generators didn't meet instructions from the state's largest power grid to bring electricity online. Other participants in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas also have been fined for their performance in the outages, but Luminant's settlement, in which it admits no violations, is by far the largest, said PUC spokesman Terry Hadley.
"Since 2011, Luminant has joined other generators, electric transmission firms and state agencies to take measures to better prepare for future extreme weather," Luminant spokesman Brad Watson said in a prepared statement. " Some 225 generation resources in ERCOT, more than 40 percent of the total generation, experienced a trip, failed start or derate," Watson said. "With this settlement, Luminant resolves all alleged violations of ERCOT protocols and PUC rules from the cold weather event in 2011," he said.
The Sierra Club, in a news release, said it hoped "this rather modest fine will send a message to Luminant and other coal and gas generators that when they are paid money by ERCOT to be available in times of emergency -- such as the freeze of February 2011 -- they must be available."