The largest and oldest power cooperative in Texas is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing last month’s winter storm that left millions of state residents without power.

Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, which serves 16 distribution member co-ops that cater to more than 1.5 million Texans, said Monday that it accumulated $2.1 billion in bills during the severe cold that hit Texas between February 13 and 19.

As temperatures plunged and snow and ice whipped the state over Valentine’s Day weekend, 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. With gas-fueled power plants offline, wells frozen, a nuclear power plant shut down and iced-over wind turbines, the state experienced a severe electricity shortage, and wholesale prices for electricity spiked as high at $9,000 per megawatt-hour.

The high prices, which are supposed to act as an incentive for power producers to create electricity, failed to lead to an increase in available power, since much of the state’s production capacity was frozen over.

Prior to the freeze, Brazos was “a financially robust, stable company with a clear vision for its future and a strong “A” to “A+” credit rating,” higher than most electric coops, it said in a press release Monday.

The came a $2.1 billion bill
Brazos said it received “excessively high invoices” from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas for collateral and for purported cost of electric service. The invoices, totaling $2.1 billion, were required to be paid within days. That’s because as a cooperative, Brazos’ costs are passed through to its members and retail consumers served by its members.