5 Texas energy council board members resign over management of winter storms


DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — Five board members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, all living out of state, have resigned over concerns about their leadership during the winter storms in the state last week.

The members who resigned include the chairman, vice chairman, finance and audit chairman, and human and government resources chairman.

The group announced their decision in a press release accompanying an official Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas filing. In the release, they note the “concerns about out of state board leadership.”

While not included in the above resignation, NewsNation affiliate KXAN reports that ERCOT also received a resignation from another out-of-state board member, Vanessa Anesetti-Parra, effective at the end of ERCOT’s Feb. 24 emergency board meeting. Anesetti-Parra’s professional social media accounts indicate her location is in Canada.

There are 16 total ERCOT board members with the 16th serving as the unaffiliated director of the organization.

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 that is blamed for more than 80 deaths, roughly half of which were in Texas.

Governor Greg Abbott said in response to the resignations that he welcomed them and the investigation into ERCOT would continue. However, 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.

“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. 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.”

Governor Greg ABBOTT

ERCOT president Bill Magness has said Texas’ power grid, which is uniquely isolated from the rest of the U.S., was on the brink of collapse in the early hours of Feb. 15 as power plants froze in the cold and record demand for electricity to heat home overwhelmed the system. He has defended the outages as a necessity, while Abbott has accused ERCOT of misleading Texas about the readiness of the grid.

As governor, Abbott picks the commissioners of the Public Utility Commission that oversees ERCOT. The selection of “unaffiliated” ERCOT board members, like most of those who are resigning, must be approved by the PUC.

Meantime, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the Public Utility Commission of Texas is as responsible for the loss of electric power as ERCOT.

“ERCOT alone should not be made the scapegoat,” said the Democratic ex-state lawmaker who presides over the largest city in the state and one of the hardest hit by recent weather.

“When I was in the Texas Legislature, I filed a bill in 2011 relating to the PUC to ensure ERCOT has adequate reserve power to prevent blackout conditions. That bill never got a hearing. The PUC oversees ERCOT, and the governor appoints all three commissioners. The resignations do not change the fact that the PUC and the Texas Legislature failed to provide oversight or enact common-sense policy,” Turner said.

KXAN has reached out to ERCOT and the PUC for response.

A joint hearing will be held at the Capitol in Austin on Thursday to discuss the statewide blackout as lawmakers demand answer and find the solution for ensuring that this never happens again. ERCOT will also be testifying.

This story is developing, check back of more updates.

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