Harris County attorneys file resistance to ERCOT's 'sovereign immunity' claim

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Attorneys for Harris County filed a brief with the Texas Supreme Court urging the court not to side with ERCOT's claim it can't be sued after February's devastating winter storm and subsequent power outages.

ERCOT claims it has sovereign immunity against lawsuits, a legal designation that would prevent the agency from ever being sued. The designation is granted to agencies to protect the interests of the public where the agency is determined to be too big to fail, thus hurting the public interest.

A Dallas-based power company, Panda Power, sued ERCOT several years ago on an unrelated incident. In that case, ERCOT's claim of immunity was upheld and the question was raised all the way to the state's top court.

In the brief, attorneys for Harris County claim ERCOT "would try to use a finding of immunity in the underlying case to avoid liability in all future cases-and that risk warrants serious consideration."

The team says that ERCOT is a private, non-governmental entity that doesn't get taxpayer funding, thus is ineligible for an immunity defense. Additionally, the brief points out that ERCOT's responsibility to prepare for the winter storm boiled down to a brief that lasted less than a minute before talking about profits.

ERCOT is facing at least half a dozen lawsuits, with more pending, after the storm.

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