Board Members Resign From Texas Electric Grid Operator After Mass Power Outages

Andrew Cummings
February 26, 2021

As lawmakers step in to get answers to ongoing questions about who and what's to blame for the meltdown in utilities statewide, another long term ripple effect looms: the impact to Texas' reputation.

Also read | Why are millions in Texas without power during a winter storm?

ERCOT president Bill Magness has said Texas' power grid - which is uniquely isolated from the rest of the US - was on the brink of collapse in the early hours of February 15 as power plants froze in the cold and a record demand for electricity to heat home overwhelmed the system.

More than 30,000 customers in Texas remain without power as of Sunday morning, according to poweroutage.us, after almost 3 million were initially without power as the state's power grid experienced a failure due to a lack of generation brought on by the freezing temperatures. Millions had no access to potable water in addition to no electricity.


Noting "recent concerns" about the board's out-of-state leadership, the four members said they did not want to become distractions: "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, February 24, 2021". Ms. Talberg lives in MI and Mr. Bulger lives in Wheaton, Illinois, according to their biographies on ERCOT's website.

As reported by the Texas Tribune, four of the board members live out of state: Sally Talberg, the Michigander and chair; Peter Cramton, the vice chairman who lives in Germany; Terry Bulger, Illinois resident and finance and audit committee chairman; and Raymond Hepper, human resources and governance committee chairman.

On Sunday, the Texas Public Utility Commission approved a pair of orders directing energy companies to temporarily halt disconnects due to non-payment and stop sending bill estimates to customers. The lack of preparedness and transparency at ERCOT is unacceptable, and I welcome these resignations.

There are a total of 16 members on ERCOT's board, which appoints officers who manage the grid manager's day-to-day operations.


"We knew back in 2011, after the last hard freeze, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission put the state and the power generators on notice that the grid was underprepared for hard freeze events", Menefee said in a statement announcing the investigation.

In place of federal oversight, Texas's energy grid is governed by ERCOT. Even when electricity was restored as temperatures rose, millions remained without safe drinking water after power outages hit treatment plants and water pumps used to pressurize lines. Fifteen members serve on the ERCOT board, including the five unaffiliated director positions. Three others on the board at the time were paid between $92,600 and $100,100, though it was not immediately known how many hours they worked.

"It was a security, safety idea", Mr. Magness said.

Cramton declined to comment. The other board members did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


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