Four ERCOT members resign in the wake of a Texas blackout

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Four 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.

Sally Talberg, chair of the board; Peter Cramton, vice president; Terry Bulger, president of finance and auditing; and Raymond Hepper, chairman of the government and human resources committee, will resign at the end of ERCOT’s board meeting on Wednesday morning, according to the notice. All four live out of state.

Craig Ivey, who also lives outside of Texas, was scheduled to fill a vacant position but withdrew his application, according to the notice.

ERCOT board members came under fire 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 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.

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.”

Fifteen directors sit on the ERCOT board, including the four unaffiliated directors, whose resignations will take effect at the end of Wednesday’s meeting. 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 chair, board vice chair and both committee chairs will be vacant,” according to the notice filed by the attorneys representing ERCOT.


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