Energy & Environment

Complaint Filed Over Alleged ‘Fake Profits’ In Texas Electricity Market

There’s a new development in a story we reported last year: allegations that mistakes made in the Texas electricity market resulted in millions of dollars of so-called “fake profits.”

Like oil or other commodities, electricity in Texas is sold on a wholesale market that is very complicated. It uses a computer system to determine prices that change minute by minute.

We reported last summer how one energy trader, Adam Sinn, said incorrect data resulted in wholesale electricity prices skyrocketing for a brief time, making millions in what he called "fake profits" for power plants. He requested that the quasi-state agency that oversees the market — ERCOT — refund what he said was as much as $50 million by temporarily lowering prices.

But ERCOT refused, saying that what happened was not against its rules.

So now, the trader's company, Raiden Commodities, has filed a formal complaint with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) which is already investigating the allegations. The PUC said it will have a response to the complaint by March 10th.

What's more, the case has drawn the attention of the Office of the Harris County Attorney, which can take legal action on behalf of electricity consumers.

Rock Owens, who heads the county attorney’s Division of Environment and Infrastructure, said his office is monitoring what the PUC does.

“It’s a damn shame consumers have to sit back and wait,” Owens told Houston Public Media.

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