Change is in the air in Texas weather and on the board of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The board members found to be living outside the Lone Star State have all resigned Tuesday.
Four board members of the state’s power grid operator, including chairwoman Sally Talberg, resigned Tuesday, a week after power outages left millions across Texas shivering in their homes during severe winter storms and state officials criticized some board members for not living in the state.
Talberg was just elected chair of the board a few days prior to the storm. She lives in Michigan, where she led a kind of Green New Deal initiative. Talberg was reportedly going to be paid north of $800,000 for the job.
Overall a total of five board members have resigned effective Wednesday, and a man who set to become a member has withdrawn. All six live outside Texas. Those who have resigned include:
Board Chairman Sally Talberg
Board Vice Chairman Peter Crampton
Finance and Audit Committee Chairman Terry Bulger
Human Resources Governance Committee Chairman Raymond Hepper
Market Segment Director Vanessa Anesetti-Parra
As I noted in my last piece on the storm, it’s not great having about a third of ERCOT’s board members living outside the state. But it’s on Texas to have prevented that from ever happening. ERCOT is overseen by the Public Utility Commission of Texas, whose commissioners are appointed by the governor. Gov. Greg Abbott appointed two of its three board members in 2017. He appointed the third commissioner in 2018. He also named its current chair, DeAnn Walker.
ERCOT board members presently nominate one another to membership, and vote on leadership. This creates at least the appearance of conflicts of interest.
In a letter the resigning board members addressed to the PUCT, they cite the residency issue:
“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 effective after our urgent board teleconference meeting adjourns on Wednesday, February 24, 2021,” part of the resignation letter read.
The Texas legislature is set to hold its first hearings on the council’s performance during the worst winter freeze the state has experienced in a century. Much of the state suffered rolling and prolonged power blackouts while temperatures plummeted and a series of storms brought ice and snow. Millions of Texans were left in the cold and dark, and many of their homes have suffered damage from burst pipes. Dozens of Texans reportedly died during the storm.