ERCOT board members are resigning after being criticized for living outside of Texas

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Updated 18:18

Austria – Five board members of the state’s electricity grid operator, including President Sally Talberg, announced their resignations on Tuesday, a week after millions of power outages trembled in their homes across Texas during severe winter storms and government officials criticized some of the board’s member because they did not live in the state.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which directs the flow of more than 26 million customers in Texas, has betrayed most of the criticism from government officials. Governor Greg Abbott last week backed council leadership resignations, calling power outages a “complete failure of ERCOT”.

On Tuesday, Abbott said the lack of ERCOT preparedness and transparency was unacceptable and welcomed the resignations.

“When Texans were in dire need of electricity, ERCOT didn’t do its job and Texans were left trembling in their homes without electricity. ERCOT’s management has ensured that Texas ’electricity infrastructure is prepared for the winter storm, but these safeguards have proved devastatingly false,” he said in a statement. “The state of Texas will continue to investigate ERCOT and explore the full picture of what went wrong, and we will ensure that last week’s catastrophic events never happen again.”

Abbott, who has also been heavily criticized for last week’s power outages, plans to give a televised public speech on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

It is believed that all five board members who resigned live outside the state.

In addition to Talberg, the other four current board members resigned: Peter Cramton, non-associate director; Terry Bulger, independent director; Raymond Hepper, independent director; and Vanessa Anesetti-Parra, who represents independent retail electricity providers.

Talberg’s biography on the ERCOT website said he lives in Michigan. Bulger lives in a suburb of Chicago.

Talberg and Cramton were elected chairman and vice-chair of the board at their meeting on February 9, a few days before the winter storm that triggered their resignation.

Non-member directors are paid $ 87,000 a year. In addition, the Chairman and Vice Chairman are paid an additional $ 12,800 and $ 7,500, respectively, and each independent director who chairs a committee on the board is paid an additional $ 5,600.

Market segment directors like Anesetti-Parra are not paid because they have jobs at member companies and are paid by their employers.

The resignations mean that all five independent posts will soon open for the ERCOT Management Board – the fifth post is currently vacant. All five are approved by the three-member Utilities Commission appointed by Abbott, which has so far received no major criticism.

The four independent directors resigned together in a joint letter to the other members of ERCOT and to the Utilities Committee overseeing ERCOT. The letter was published on the website of the Utilities Committee.

Board members said they took note of the pain and suffering of Texans last week.

“We noted recent concerns about the leadership of ERCOT’s non-state directorate,” they wrote. “In order to give state leaders a free hand to guide the future and eliminate distractions, we will resign from the board after we postponed the emergency board teleconference meeting on Wednesday.”

Before they stepped aside, they wrote, they started reviewing last week’s power crisis.

Separately, Anesetti-Parra sent her own resignation letter on Tuesday. His resignation will take effect after Wednesday’s meeting.

Also on Tuesday, a non-state candidate withdrew his candidacy for the vacancy on the ERCOT board, saying he “wants to avoid being distracted” as government officials try to respond to last week’s outages.

Officials were the first to oversee last week’s events with the resignations.

Rff Plano MP Jeff Leach, who plans to pass legislation requiring board members to live in Texas, said the resignations were a “good and necessary move”.

“There is a strong bipartisan consensus that the ERCOT Board – which decides for more than 28 million Texans to make such decisions – must be filled by capable and educated citizens who live here, know our state and can be trusted in wisdom. decisions made on our behalf, ”he said in a statement.

ERCOT officials are expected to testify before lawmakers on Thursday over last week’s power outage hearings.

In Congress, Dallas Democrat Colin Allred called for a continuous investigation into last week’s events.

“This is the first step towards holding those responsible for the crisis accountable, but it does not absolve them or the leaders of the state from answering the questions and giving clarity to the failure they deserve from the Texans,” he said in a statement. “ERCOT needs to be fully investigated and our state has failed to prepare for the storm and failed to communicate with the public.”

Democrat Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat, said resignations should not distract attention from the failures of public officials, who he said are the result of Republican inaction. He said the state did not take steps to prepare for such weather events after a similar winter storm in 2011 led to rolling outages.

“Our Republican leaders are more interested in helping their friends with fossil fuels avoid security spending than in ensuring security,” Doggett said in a statement. “Failing to invest in weather-caused infrastructure is like failing to buy insurance: You can save a few dollars initially with generators, but when a disaster strikes, we all pay a lot more for human suffering.”