Texas appeals court allows some lawsuits against power companies related to 2021 winter storm to move forward

The ruling involves thousands of plaintiffs across Texas affected by the 2021 winter storm.

DALLAS — A Harris County appeals court ruled this week that gross negligence lawsuits against Oncor and other power distribution companies related to power outages during the February 2021 winter storm can move forward.

The ruling involves thousands of plaintiffs from across the state whose lawsuits were consolidated for pre-trial proceedings, court documents show.

A three-judge panel of the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston ruled that legal claims involving gross negligence or intentional misconduct could continue against Oncor and fellow plaintiffs CenterPoint and AEP Texas.

The court barred plaintiffs from pursuing negligence claims related to the duty of a transmission and distribution utility (TDU), like Oncor, to provide power during an emergency, though.

During the February 2021 winter storm, frigid temperatures and icy conditions led to record-setting power demand. 

Texas’ power grid operator, ERCOT, which manages most of the state’s power supply, ordered millions of Texans’ power cut to prevent the grid’s collapse but left it largely up to power companies like Oncor to determine where the outages would happen. The outages were initially described as rolling blackouts, but many areas were without power for days.

In the aftermath of the storm, thousands sued ERCOT and power producers and distributors, accusing them of failing to adequately prepare for the storm. In June 2023, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled ERCOT qualified for immunity from the civil lawsuits. 

This is a developing story. WFAA will update this story as additional information becomes available.

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