Four energy board members to resign after catastrophic blackouts in Texas during winter storm

Four members of the board of the Texas power grid operator intend to resign after last week’s blackouts left millions of people without power in brutal winter weather.

The board chair and vice chair of the Texas Electric Reliability Council, or ERCOT, along with two other board members, issued a joint statement announcing their intention to resign at a meeting Wednesday, according to a document filed with the Commission of Texas Public Services.

“To allow state leaders a free hand regarding future direction and to eliminate distractions, we will resign from the board after our urgent teleconference meeting of the board ends on Wednesday, February 24, 2021,” said the release.

ERCOT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The letter was signed by President Sally Talberg, Vice President Peter Cramton, Finance and Audit Committee Chairman Terry Bulger, and Governance and Human Resources Committee Chairman Raymond Hepper.

All four members said in the letter that they had heard concerns about the board’s leadership “out of state” and want to acknowledge the “pain and suffering” of Texans over the past week.

“With proper monitoring, Texas can lead the nation in investing in infrastructure and emergency preparedness to withstand the effects of severe weather events, whether in the form of floods, droughts, extreme temperatures or hurricanes,” the letter said. “We want the best for ERCOT and Texas.”

A fifth person, Craig Ivey, withdrew his petition to fill a vacant seat on the board in a letter acknowledging that he also lives outside of Texas, according to the filing. Ivey said in his ad that Texas is a state with a “rich history” where the people are “proud, independent and resilient.”

“I am confident that Texas and ERCOT will emerge from this crisis better than before,” Ivey’s letter read.

Gov. Greg Abbott said he “welcomed” the resignations in a statement Tuesday.

“When Texans desperately needed electricity, ERCOT did not do its job and Texans were left shaking in their homes without power,” Abbott said. “ERCOT’s leadership assured that Texas electrical infrastructure was prepared for the winter storm, but those assurances proved devastatingly false.”

Abbot declared ERCOT reform a top priority last week, urging the Legislature to investigate the power grid service.

“This is unacceptable,” he said. “Reviewing ERCOT’s preparations and decisions is an emergency item so that we can get a complete picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions.”

More than 3 million people and businesses were without power after a major winter cold front swept through Texas last week, leaving Texans without power in freezing temperatures. Residents struggled to stay warm and a lack of heat froze pipes, contributing to a water crisis in the state.

ERCOT, which oversees about 90 percent of Texas energy production, cited equipment frozen for lost production of its natural gas and some renewable energy sources.

Although Texas is one of the largest energy producers and consumers in the country, it is not subject to federal regulations because it relies on its own energy grid. Critics have said the lack of oversight allowed the state to shirk its responsibilities under federal requirements that would have better prepared the power grid for winter weather.

This is a story in development; Please check the updates.

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