Texas Energy Board Members Resign On Eve Of Scathing Committee Hearings

Five board members, including the chairman, announced their intentions to resign from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) this week — leaving eight members to answer to legislators who will be eager for answers on Thursday.

After a record-shattering ice storm froze an electric grid more dependent on alternative sources than ever before, word that several board members were not even from Texas added insult to injury during a period of rolling blackouts and water utility difficulties.

The resignations, plus a withdrawing of paperwork by one non-Texan candidate according to the Texas Tribune, comes ahead of the joint meeting of the Texas House State Affairs and Energy Resources committees on Thursday for a hearing that will be the center of attention statewide and nationally.

ERCOT, the agency that manages the roughly Texas-shaped electric grid that serves 90% of the Lone Star State’s electric load and 25 million customers, has become a household word over the past week, with even Gov. Greg Abbott calling for administrative heads to roll. ERCOT officials, during a press conference last week, said it had temporarily removed personal information about the directors from its website because they were experiencing harassment, the Texas Tribune also reported.

It was estimated 4.5 million users were without power at some point last week.

Sally Talberg (chairman), Peter Cramton, Terry Bulger, Vanessa Anesetti-Parra and Raymond Hepper resigned at the end of today’s ERCOT board meeting.

From the hip: The rolling outages have made everyone a sudden expert on an otherwise obscure quasi-government entity.

Although ERCOT makes the news each summer as air conditioner use has consumption rates climbing in the ever-growing state, few know the council is under the Public Utility Commission of Texas (or PUC), an agency which even fewer know much about. Fewer still understand how ERCOT came to be, or how it is made up of independent members, consumers and representatives from each of ERCOT’s electric market segments in order to give a more accurate voice on a board that could be easily overrun by electric utility interests.

Even fewer understand the complex history of how Texas has retained its own electric grid. And you’ll never hear “the grid” called by its proper name, the Texas Interconnection.

Thursday’s hearings should do much to further this educational moment, especially when it comes to the role green energy has played in allegedly contributing to the instability. Stay tuned.

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