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Brazos Electric Tries to Escape $1.1 Billion of Storm Charges

  • A trial over the sum began in bankruptcy court on Tuesday
  • Power seller alleges grid operator wrongly meddled with market
A Brazos Electric power plant in Palo Pinto, Texas.
A Brazos Electric power plant in Palo Pinto, Texas.Photographer: Thomas Ryan Allison/Bloomberg

It was a $1.9 billion bill that forced Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, one of Texas’ oldest and most creditworthy power sellers, into bankruptcy last year. Now a federal judge is being asked to make more than half the sum disappear. 

Brazos Electric on Tuesday kicked off a long-awaited trial against the state’s grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, over sky-high power bills racked up during a devastating winter storm last year. Ercot raised prices to $9,000 per megawatt-hour -- the legal maximum -- for several days during the storm, forcing Brazos to buy electricity so pricey it became insolvent in a flash.