NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — It is the largest and oldest power cooperative in Texas and now, after the devastating February winter storms, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Officials with Brazos Electric Power Cooperative Inc. say it was a “financially robust, stable company” before the winter blast hit Texas between February 13 and February 19 and left millions without power.

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Brazos serves 16 distribution member cooperatives that cater to more than 1.5 million Texans.

As temperatures plunged and snow and ice whipped the state, much of Texas’ power grid collapsed, followed by its water systems. Tens of millions huddled in frigid homes that slowly grew colder or fled for safety. Texas was left to seek aid from other states and humanitarian groups as many of its 29 million residents literally tried to keep from freezing to death.

Brazos said that it received excessively high invoices from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for collateral and for purported cost of electric service. The invoices were required to be paid within days. As a cooperative, Brazos’ costs are passed through to its members and retail consumers served by its members.

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Brazos decided it wouldn’t pass the ERCOT costs on to its members or consumers and instead filed for bankruptcy.

In a statement Brazos vice president Clifton Karnei said, “Let me emphasize that this action by Brazos Electric was necessary to protect its member cooperatives and their more than 1.5 million retail members from unaffordable electric bills as we continue to provide electric service throughout the court-supervised process.

The bankruptcy filing comes the same day that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that he’s suing electricity provider Griddy for passing along massive bills to its customers during the storms.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

CBSDFW.com Staff