The ink is hardly dry on the new nodal budget – all $644 million of it — and already ERCOT is having to admit that it has made another error.
During an April 22 ERCOT board meeting, ERCOT Chief Financial Officer Steve Byone acknowledged that planners for the snake-bit project have failed to account for $4 million in necessary spending. To fix the error, Byone suggested that ERCOT dip into a special nodal contingency fund setup to cover unforeseen expenditures and cost overruns.
The ERCOT board put the kibosh on that idea, and so it remains unclear how the organization will make up for the shortfall.
Recall that nodal implementation was once projected to cost as little as $59.8 million. Thanks to several missed budget targets, it’s now budgeted for about 10 times that amount.
Just weeks before the most recent snafu, ERCOT officials had been grilled by state lawmakers who wanted assurances that the organization was finally providing solid budget numbers.
During a Feb. 24 meeting of his State Affairs committee, for instance, chair Burt Solomons asked: “If it goes over budget, should we fire ya’ll?”
ERCOT CEO Bob Kahn responded: “That would be up to the board and ya’ll — but we don’t plan to go over.”
Kahn also said that ERCOT officials “have a high confidence that we’re going to make the proposed budget and schedule that we put out there…. We believe that the budget we have come up with is a realistic budget.”