Five members of the board of directors of the Texas power operator will step down this week after millions of people in the state lost power in deadly winter storms last week. The five board members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, had all come under heavy criticism for apparently living out of state. ERCOT, a nonprofit organization, manages the majority of Texas’ electrical load.
Sally Talberg, chairman of ERCOT, and Peter Cramton, vice chairman, will step down on Wednesday, the operator said in a notice to the state’s Utilities Commission on Tuesday. Three other board members – Terry Bulger, Raymond Hepper and Vanessa Anesetti-Parra – will also resign, the notice said.
The five board members had come under scrutiny for living outside of Texas. Talberg lives in Michigan, the Austin American-Statesman reported last week. The newspaper noted that Cramton, who lists California as his current location on LinkedIn, is a professor of economics at the University of Cologne in Germany and the University of Maryland.
In a letter attached to the public notice, Talberg, Cramton, Bulger and Hepper highlighted “recent concerns about the out-of-state board leadership at ERCOT” as the reason for their resignation.
“To give state leaders a free hand with future directions and to eliminate distractions, we are stepping down from the board after the urgent board teleconference meeting ends on Wednesday,” the four members wrote.
The fifth resigning board member, Anesetti-Parra, did not sign the letter, but the notice indicated that she had submitted her resignation in writing to ERCOT. Anesetti-Parra mentions Toronto as his current location on Linkedin, the American-Statesman reported.
Unlike most countries in North America, Texas controls its own power grid – and about 90% of the state is served by ERCOT. The network was devastated in recent winter storms and, at one point, was only “seconds or minutes” from complete failure, ERCOT officials admitted. This prompted the operator to initiate power outages, leaving millions of Texans shivering in the dark and cold.
ERCOT’s board of directors has 15 current members. The operator said the vacancies left by the five resigning members will not be immediately filled.
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