5 ERCOT board members from outside Texas resign in the wake of winter storm outages

Five board members of the Texas Electric Reliability Council, the entity that manages and operates the power grid that covers much of Texas, will resign Wednesday, according to a notice to the Public Utilities Commission. A sixth has withdrawn their application to the board.

All six live outside of Texas.

Sally Talberg, chair of the board; Peter Cramton, vice president; Terry Bulger, president of finance and auditing; and Raymond Hepper, chairman of the governance and human resources committee, occupy the “unaffiliated seats” on the board, which means they must remain independent of any business ERCOT oversees.

Additionally, Vanessa Anesetti-Parra, Market Segment Director for the Independent Retail Electric Provider Market Segment, also resigned and Craig Ivey, who was scheduled to fill a vacant position, withdrew her application.

ERCOT board members were criticized last week when it was reported that some of the board members did not reside in the state. ERCOT officials, during a press conference last week, said it had temporarily removed personal information about directors from its website because board members were experiencing harassment.

The board has also been criticized for its handling of last week’s massive blackout during a winter storm that has claimed the lives of dozens of Texans. More than 4.5 million customers were without power at one point last week.

RELATED: ERCOT defends early decision to cut power supply

Governor Greg Abbott had asked ERCOT board members to resign after the crisis and said in a statement Tuesday that he welcomes their resignations and promised to investigate the network operator.

SEE ALSO: Governor Greg Abbott Calls on ERCOT Leaders to Resign During ABC13 Personal Interview

“I welcome resignations,” Abbott said. “The lack of preparedness and transparency at ERCOT is unacceptable. We will ensure that the disastrous events of the past week are never repeated.”

ERCOT, a non-profit organization, is governed by a board of directors, but overseen by the Public Utilities Commission. Fifteen directors serve on the ERCOT board, including the five unaffiliated directors positions. Vacancies will not be filled immediately.

For ERCOT to maintain its certification as an independent organization, the board, which must consist of 16 members, must include five who are not affiliated with “any market segment” at all. Ivey would have been the fifth unaffiliated member.

“The leadership positions of board chairman, board vice chairman and both committee chairs will be vacant,” according to the notice filed by the attorneys representing ERCOT.

Lawsuits have already been filed against ERCOT in response to last week’s crisis. It’s unclear whether ERCOT, which is under the jurisdiction of the PUC, can be held liable for such lawsuits: the Texas Supreme Court is expected to decide this year whether ERCOT is entitled to sovereign immunity, a legal principle that protects agencies lawsuits, after the hearing. another case that raised the issue last year.

Talberg, a former state utilities regulator who served on the Michigan Public Utilities Commission from 2013 to 2020, lives in Michigan. Talberg has served on various state, regional, and national boards and committees dealing with electricity, natural gas, oil, infrastructure, and telecommunications. Cramton, a professor of economics at the University of Cologne and the University of Maryland, lives in Germany. Cramton has focused its research on the electrical and financial markets. He has advised numerous governments and has been on the ERCOT board since 2015.

Bulger worked in the banking industry for 35 years, including various positions at ABN AMRO Bank in Canada, Europe and the United States, and lives in Wheaton, Illinois. Hepper, a former U.S. Department of Justice litigator, retired in 2018 from working for the grid operator that manages the electric system and wholesale markets for all six New England states.

Ivey, whose appointment was approved by ERCOT members but pending final approval from the PUC, is retired with more than three decades of experience in the utility industry. He resides in Florida, according to an announcement by ERCOT about his candidacy for the board. Most recently, he was president of Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc., a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison Inc.

ERCOT representatives did not return calls seeking comment, but in a statement said, “We look forward to working with the Texas Legislature and we thank the outgoing Board members for their service.”

READ: Public Notice to Public Utilities Commission

The Texas Tribune is a non-profit, nonpartisan media organization that informs and engages with Texans on public policy, politics, government, and state affairs.


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