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Five ERCOT leaders resign amid power outage controversy
(Dpysh/CC)

ERCOT control room in 2012.

Five non-Texan members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, including the chairman and vice chairman, will resign Wednesday after the state's power grid failure left millions without electricity for days during Winter Storm Uri.


The joint resignation letter wrote that Board Chairman Sally Talberg, Board Vice Chairman Peter Cramton, Finance and Audit Committee Chairman Terry Bulger and Human Resources Raymond Hepper would resign. Another, Market Segment Director Vanessa Anesetti-Parra, wrote that she would resign in a separate statement. In addition to the chairmen, another out-of-state applicant who was a candidate for an ERCOT position has also withdrawn.

The information was posted on the Public Utility Commission of Texas' website on Tuesday.

All five members live outside of Texas despite the council running 90% of the state's nationally-independent power grid. Many are disappointed that one-third of ERCOT members live out of state, meaning leaders were miles away as the crisis unfolded.

ERCOT has been under fire recently for making painfully inadequate safeguards in preparation to the weeklong winter storm. Millions of residents were left with rolling blackouts or no power at all as temperatures lingered well below freezing for nearly a week. To add to the controversy, it was reported Friday that ERCOT spent less than a minute to discuss winter preparedness at a two-hour meeting earlier this month.

In the joint resignation letter, the chairmen wrote that they were leaving due to controversy about their out-of-state residency and that they felt for Texans who lost power during the storm.

"We want to acknowledge the pain and suffering of Texans during this past week," the statement read. "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. We have noted recent concerns about out-of-state board leadership at ERCOT. To allow state leaders a free hand with future direction and to eliminate distractions, we are resigning from the board."

Gov. Greg Abbott, who called on ERCOT leadership to resign last week, said in a statement that the council failed to make sure Texans would be safe during the winter storm.

"When Texans were in desperate need of electricity, ERCOT failed to do its job and Texans were left shivering in their homes without power." Abbot wrote. "ERCOT leadership made assurances that Texas' power infrastructure was prepared for the winter storm, but those assurances proved to be devastatingly false. The lack of preparedness and transparency at ERCOT is unacceptable, and I welcome these resignations."

On Friday, Abbott said ERCOT's failure to meet demands is what triggered an investigation into the nonprofit. "We want to make sure that whatever happened in ERCOT falling short never happens again."

Before the out-of-state chairmen resign, the members noted that they would continue to investigate ways to learn from ERCOT's past mistakes and give Texas a brighter future.

"Before we step aside, we are beginning the process of reviewing this extreme cold weather event and resulting power crisis," they wrote. "With the right follow through, Texas can lead the nation in investing in infrastructure and emergency preparedness to withstand the effects of severe weather events—whether in the form of flooding, drought, extreme temperatures, or hurricanes. We want what is best for ERCOT and Texas."

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