EXCLUSIVE: Lt. Gov. Patrick on ERCOT failure, possible taxpayer bailout

In the 12 days since Texas emerged from its dark, deep, freeze Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has liked very little of what he's learned.

"We almost lost the entire grid and they didn't have any answers about what they could do better?" said Patrick.

Patrick was referring to now-former Public Utility Commission Chairwoman DeAnn Walker along with Electric Reliability Council of Texas Chief Executive Bill Magness, whose days at the helm, appear numbered.

Public Utility Commission chair resigns after Texas officials criticize management of power outages

The chairwoman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the agency that regulates the state’s electric, telecommunication, and water and sewer utilities, resigned Monday, according to a resignation letter provided to the Texas Tribune.

"That's a matter of time. If he won't quit, we will find a way to remove him," said Patrick.

After days of investigation by the Texas Senate, over which he presides, Patrick says ERCOT fumbled on multiple fronts with catastrophic consequences.

"They went into that weekend without enough power. They were warned by Vistra, a company up in Dallas, that they needed more power and ERCOT did not pay attention to them. That was another mistake. They never took into account that any generating plants would go out ... This is like a bad movie."

With 80 confirmed deaths and property damage in the billions of dollars, the Lt. Governor says he's personally committed to ensuring the self-inflicted disaster is never repeated.

Meantime, the state's grid operator has nose-dived into insolvency as power-related operators endure a liquidity crisis.

Texas Blackout: Experts forecast cascading financial failures

'I fear the dominos are starting to fall and we are going to see billions if not tens of billions of dollars in losses and bankruptcies because of the fatally-flawed Texas electric market that was set up by the Texas legislature,' said analyst Robert Bryce.

"This week they came up $1.7 billion short of being able to pay their bills, because people weren't paying their bills and bills had gone very high as we know," said Patrick.

FOX 26 asked Patrick if a taxpayer-funded bailout would be needed to restore liquidity to the system.

"Too early to tell. One of the things that we are seeing now, as this filters out as it always does in any business, you find out who is really in trouble and who is not and how much they are in trouble like we found out about Brazos Power. We didn't know that a week ago. But we found out they couldn't pay their bills and there are going to be other companies that fail," said Patrick.

ERCOT concedes miscalculation of winter storm's impact on Texas power grid

Less than week after the deadly Texas blackout, the president and board of the state's Electric Reliability Council conducted a public autopsy of what many view as an epic and preventable fail. 

FOX 26 asked the Lt. Governor whether he was concerned some energy businesses may have taken in big profits during the crisis as Texans suffered.

"I'm going to look under every rock to make sure that didn't happen," said Patrick who told FOX 26 he may order Senate Committee Chairs to subpoena witnesses.

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