ERCOT managers resign after widespread storm

Five officials have resigned from the board overseeing the Texas power grid, as it was pushed to the brink of a recent winter storm, leaving millions without power during some of the state’s coldest temperatures.

Electric Reliability Council of Texas, The board that regulates the flow of electricity to more than 26 million people in the state, has been widely blamed for the outage, prompting governors, lawmakers and federal officials to launch investigations into the system’s failures Has been done, especially in preparation for cold weather.

The five board members who intended to resign at the conclusion of a meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning were all from outside Texas, a point of contention for critics who played such an influential role in the state’s infrastructure Had questioned the wisdom of outsiders.

In a statement on Tuesday, filed with the Public Utility Commission, four members of the board said they stepped up to “allow state leaders to have a free hand with future direction and eliminate distractions” Were staying. In a footnote, the filing stated that a fifth member was also resigning.

The departures are Sally Talberg, chairman and former state utility regulator who lives in Michigan; Peter Cramton, vice president and professor of economics at the University of Cologne and University of Maryland in Germany; Terry Bulger, a retired banking executive who lives in Illinois; Raymond Hepper, a former officer of the agency that oversees the power grid in New England; And Vanessa Annacetti-Parra, who oversees regulatory affairs for a company headquartered in Canada. Another man who was about to fill the vacant seat was Craig S. Ivey, withdrawn from the 16-member board.

The board was targeted for faults and investigations following a winter storm last week, causing the state’s electric grid to reach an indefinitely close blackout that could take months to recover. In the final moments, the council known as ERCOT ordered a rolling outage, leaving much of the state sunk in darkness and electricity prices skyrocketing. Some customers had Bill over $ 10,000.

The weather crippled the system as power plants were knocked offline and pumps used to produce the natural gas needed to fuel them.

State officials have said that ERCOT had assured that the power infrastructure was designed to withstand winter conditions.

“But those assurances proved disastrously wrong,” Gorge Greg Abbott said in a statement, “When Texas was in dire need of electricity, ERCOT failed to do its job and the Texans left their homes shivering without electricity Were. “

As the state was recovering from the crisis, the realization that some board members lived out of state became an outrage, not only that ERCOT initially took information about them from its website. Officials said members were harassed and threatened.

A state lawmaker said he was proposing a law that would prohibit people who were not residents of Texas.

“If you are not living here, if you are not experiencing what you are experiencing, and yet you are accused of making decisions on our behalf, then it is unacceptable,” Jeff Leach, a state The Dallas suburbs, whose representative includes a team from the district, said in a recent interview.

The resignations are set for a hearing on the boycott of power on Thursday by the state legislature. The Harris County attorney, whose jurisdiction includes Houston, said Tuesday that it was initiating a civil investigation ruling made by ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission, and others including the district attorney in Travis County, which includes Austin , Said he was opening a criminal investigation.

“We look forward to working with the Texas Legislature, and we thank the outgoing board members for their service,” ERCOT said in a statement.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said late Monday that its enforcement division would review wholesale natural gas and electricity market activity in Texas, presumably to determine if there were any illegal antichromatic or price manipulations.

Power system failures raised wholesale electricity prices from $ 1,200 per megawatt-hour to about $ 9,000.

Energy analysts said the failure is associated not only with ERCOT but also with electricity providers across the state who do not prepare their systems for harsh weather conditions.

“Hades was supposed to roll but I don’t think it will change anything,” Michael E. Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. Weber said. “It is easier to blame out-of-state board members of grid operators rather than state gas producers and power plant owners.”

Those operators neglected to spend their equipment, pipelines and power lines to resist bad weather, he said, because they were not obliged to do so by state regulation.

Ivan Penn And Clifford cross Contributed to reporting.

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