Four board leaders of Texas’ embattled power grid operator said Tuesday they will resign following outrage over more than 4 million customers losing power during a deadly winter freeze last week.
All of the board directors stepping down, including Chairwoman Sally Talberg, live outside of Texas, which only intensified criticism of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
The resignations are effective Wednesday, a day before Texas lawmakers are set to begin hearings over the outages in the state Capitol. The board members acknowledged “concerns about out-of-state board leadership” in a letter to grid members and the state’s Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT.
“Our hearts go out to all Texans who have had to go without electricity, heat, and water during frigid temperatures and continue to face the tragic consequences of this emergency,” the letter read.
The other board members are vice chairman Peter Cramton, Terry Bulger and Raymond Hepper. Talberg lives in Michigan and Bulger lives in Wheaton, Illinois, according to their biographies on ERCOT’s website. Cramton and Hepper spent their careers working outside Texas.
Historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures in Texas last week left millions without power and water for days. The storm was part of any icy blast across the Deep South t hat is blamed for at least 80 deaths.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has put much of the blame for the outages on ERCOT and called for investigations. But the problems were wider than ERCOT, including power plants that were knocked offline by the extreme cold and natural gas producers didn’t protect wellheads from freezing.
Abbott issued a statement on the resignation of the ERCOT board members, including the chairman and vice-chairman.
“When Texans were in desperate need of electricity, ERCOT failed to do its job and Texans were left shivering in their homes without power. ERCOT leadership made assurances that Texas’ power infrastructure was prepared for the winter storm, but those assurances proved to be devastatingly false,” Abbott said. “The lack of preparedness and transparency at ERCOT is unacceptable, and I welcome these resignations. 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.”