Local News

Leading Off (3/4/2021)

Families sue, Oncor apologizes, and ERCOT fires its CEO.

Families Sue Oncor. After the recent storms and power outages, Larry Ford found his 68-year-old father, Elzie Ford, frostbitten and near death at his home in Whitney. A neighbor had called on February 14 to say Elzie had fallen; later that night, the electricity went out. Due to road conditions, Larry wasn’t able to reach his father until February 19. Elzie was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Waco, where he died on the 20th. A new lawsuit filed on behalf of Larry, by Dallas attorney Patrick Luff, alleges that Elzie’s death could have been prevented if Oncor had properly prepared its facilities in preparation for the anticipated severe weather event. Another lawsuit was filed in Dallas County by Houston attorney Anthony Buzbee on behalf of the family of Katherine Birdwell, who died after her oxygen machine stopped working when the power went out.

Oncor Apologizes to City Council. Officials told Dallas City Council yesterday that they would improve communication in the future but denied that intentional bias determined the neighborhoods where power was cut. Oncor cited an internal review for its conclusion, but did not provide raw data or a report to Council. Even though ERCOT officials have said that the entire grid was minutes from collapsing on February 15, Oncor failed to communicate to residents that the planned 15-30 minute rolling blackouts were going to turn into days without power when the company discovered that insufficient power was being generated due to frozen natural gas pipelines and other system failures caused by the extreme cold.

ERCOT Fires Its CEO. Bill Magness, who had been drawing an $803,000 yearly salary, got his walking papers yesterday.

County Judge Clay Jenkins Loses His Voice. Metaphorically, of course, from screaming into the void. The latest tally of 26 COVID deaths and 718 new cases is the first after Governor Greg Abbott’s announced revocation of the mask mandate, and therefore is apropos of very little. The full vaccination total for the county now stands at 8.7 percent for residents 16 an older. But as medical professionals and we all know [recites in unison] reduced mask use leads to increased spread of the disease.

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