Five board members of Texas’ embattled power grid operator will resign this week after millions across the state lost power during last week’s deadly winter storms. The five board members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, had all faced sharp criticism for reportedly living out of state. ERCOT, a nonprofit, manages the majority of Texas’ electric load.
Sally Talberg, ERCOT’s chair, and Peter Cramton, the vice chair, will resign on Wednesday, the operator said in a Tuesday notice to the state’s Public Utility Commission. Three other board members — Terry Bulger, Raymond Hepper and Vanessa Anesetti-Parra — will also resign, the notice said.
All five board members had come under scrutiny for reportedly living outside Texas. Talberg lives in Michigan, the Austin American-Statesman reported last week. The paper 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 pointed to “recent concerns about out-of-state board leadership at ERCOT” as a reason for their resignation.
“To allow state leaders a free hand with future direction and to eliminate distractions, we are resigning from the board effective after our urgent board teleconference meeting adjourns on Wednesday,” the four members wrote.
The fifth resigning board member, Anesetti-Parra, did not sign the letter but the notice said she’d submitted her resignation in writing to ERCOT. Anesetti-Parra lists Toronto as her current location on Linkedin, the American-Statesman reported.
Unlike most of North America, Texas controls its own electrical grid — and some 90% of the state is serviced by ERCOT. The grid was devastated during the recent winter storms and, at one point, was mere “seconds or minutes” away from complete failure, ERCOT officials have admitted. This prompted the operator to initiate rolling blackouts, leaving millions of Texans shivering in the dark and cold.
ERCOT’s board has 15 current members. The operator said the vacancies left by the five resigning members won’t be immediately filled.