Top Board Members Of Texas Electric Grid Operator To Resign After Statewide Power Outage

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Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Four leading board members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) announced they will resign Wednesday as the electric grid operator faces scrutiny for its role in statewide power outages that occurred last week during a winter storm.

ERCOT board chair Sally Talberg, vice chair Peter Cramton, finance and audit chair Terry Bulger and human resources and governance committee chair Raymond Hepper will resign during an ERCOT board meeting Wednesday, according to a notice filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC).

Board member nominee Craig Ivey was expected to fill a vacant position on the board but has withdrawn his application, ERCOT attorneys mentioned in Tuesday’s notice.

The resignations come just two days before ERCOT and PUC leaders were expected to testify in front of lawmakers from both chambers of the Texas state legislature during a joint hearing Thursday, according to KXAN.

The board members cited recent concerns about out-of-state leadership at the electric grid after it was reported last week that one-third of ERCOT board members do not live in Texas, according to the Austin-American Statesman.

“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,” they stated in their resignation.

None of the four board members resigning are Texas residents, according to The Texas Tribune. Talberg and Hepper previously worked for electric grid operators in Michigan and New England, respectively. Cramer lives in Germany where he teaches economics at the University of Cologne.

The vacancies will not be immediately filled according to Tuesday’s notice. In order for ERCOT to remain certified under state law, five of the 16 board members must be completely unaffiliated with “any market segment,” according to The Texas Tribune.

The independent grid operator is facing intense scrutiny after statewide power outages during a winter storm last week left millions of Texans without electricity or water. 21 people were reported dead due to unprecedented weather conditions, according to the Austin-American Statesman, and insurers estimate the storm cost more than $18 billion in damages. (RELATED: 8.8 Million Texans Still Without Safe Water Supply)

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has demanded an investigation into the state’s electric grid and last week’s widespread power outages.

ERCOT officials said the grid had been “seconds and minutes” away from a catastrophic failure that could have left Texans without power for months, The Texas Tribune first reported.

“The State of Texas will continue to investigate ERCOT and uncover the full picture of what went wrong, and we will ensure that the disastrous events of last week are never repeated,” Abbott said in a press release Tuesday.