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ChartWatch: Major Texas co-op files for bankruptcy as freeze impacts widen

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ChartWatch: Major Texas co-op files for bankruptcy as freeze impacts widen

This is an update to the continuing financial impacts tracker:

Electricity and natural gas companies continued to warn of potential financial exposure from the February arctic freeze that caused a grid crisis in Texas, with the independent market monitor of the state's grid operator flagging flaws in certain market transactions that occurred during the winter storm.

Brazos Electric Power Cooperative Inc., the oldest and largest generation and transmission power cooperative in Texas, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy after receiving "excessively high invoices" from the Electric Reliability Council Of Texas Inc. which required payment within days.

According to a Reuters report, ERCOT has billed Brazos Electric $1.8 billion after the severe cold weather that caused historic blackouts in the state in February.

NRG Energy Inc., which owns 10,230 MW of capacity in the state, said the impact of the historic Texas winter storm on the company's finances is yet to be finalized but is expected to be within its current guidance range. The power producer on March 1 specified that a stress-test analysis shows a potential positive or negative $100 million impact to its guidance ranges.

The company credited a "diversified supply" and "risk management" for its ability to mitigate losses from the Texas energy crisis.

NRG and its rival Vistra Corp. were viewed as the most exposed power providers to generation outages in ERCOT, given their large generation fleets.

Potomac Economics Ltd., which monitors wholesale markets managed by ERCOT, on March 1 recommended important tweaks to rules for providing ancillary services to be more consistent with ERCOT's market design principles.

Also on March 1, DeAnn Walker, the chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, resigned as pressure mounts from the state's political leaders for accountability following the crisis.

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Elsewhere, Denton's municipal electric utility spent $207 million Feb. 16-19 to buy electricity from ERCOT, an amount equal to roughly 90% of its annual budget. The city's council has since voted to allow the utility to borrow up to $300 million to keep it afloat following the storm, according to a report by the Denton Record-Chronicle.

City Public Service of San Antonio, also known as CPS Energy, reported $1 billion in obligations, including $800 million for natural gas supply and $200 million for electricity from ERCOT.

The CPS board allowed up to $500 million in short-term financing, subject to the approval of the San Antonio City Council.

Engie SA, which owns more than 1 GW of wind, solar ang capacity in ERCOT, estimates a potential negative impact of between €80 million and €120 million from the cold weather snap.

Calling the mid-February 2021 cold weather event that just passed the "worst in decades," with temperatures dipping as low as minus 21 degrees F, Evergy Inc. President and CEO David Campbell said the cost to the company for buying natural gas and purchasing power due to the cold "is estimated at $300 million."

ONE Gas Inc. is looking at approximately $2.2 billion worth of natural gas purchases due at the end of March following the unexpected effects of the extreme winter weather to gas prices in the utility's Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas jurisdictions.

Western Midstream Partners LP is still evaluating the financial impact of the storm, but President and CEO Michael Ure said that the winter weather will "adversely affect [the company's] first-quarter results."

Atmos Energy Corp. said it expects extraordinary natural gas purchase costs linked to extreme winter weather to total about $2.5 billion, representing the low end of its previously estimated range of $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion.