Five Electric Reliability Council of Texas board members are resigning amid criticism that they live outside of the state.
Board Chairwoman Sally Talberg, Vice Chair Peter Cramton and board members Terry Bulger and Raymond Hepper will resign following a Feb. 24 board meeting, according to a notice to the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
In a letter to their peers on the board, the members wrote that the recent concerns about out-of-state leadership have been noted and that they are resigning to “eliminate distractions.”
“Before we step aside, we are beginning the process of reviewing this extreme cold weather event and resulting power crisis,” the letter reads, expressing optimism that Texas can lead the nation in emergency preparedness for extreme weather.
“We want what is best for ERCOT and Texas,” the letter reads.
Board member Vanessa Anesetti-Parra’s signature was not among those on the letter, but a footnote in a corresponding document provided to the Public Utility Commission notes she is resigning.
Talberg lives in Michigan and Bulger in Illinois, according to their bios on the ERCOT website. Cramton lives in California, Hepper lives in Maine and Anesetti-Parra lives in Toronto, according her LinkedIn profile.
Gov. Greg Abbott previously called on the board to resign, labeling ERCOT’s response a “total failure.” ERCOT oversees the states power grid and is regulated by the the Pubic Utility Commission, whose commissioners are appointed by Abbott.
Abbott said he welcomed the resignations in a Tuesday statement.
“When Texans were in desperate need of electricity, ERCOT failed to do its job and Texans were left shivering in their homes without power,” Abbott said. “ERCOT leadership made assurances that Texas’ power infrastructure was prepared for the winter storm, but those assurances proved to be devastatingly false.”
In addition to the board members, Craig Ivey, a candidate to fill a vacant board position, withdrew his name from consideration. Like the members, Ivey said he didn’t want to be a distraction.
“The response to recent events will require the full attention of leaders in the state and at ERCOT,” Ivey said in a letter to the Public Utility Commission.
ERCOT has faced sharp criticism over its response to the winter storm after millions across the state were left without power, some for days.
Abbott has made ERCOT reforms an emergency item for lawmakers to consider during the legislative session. State Sen. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, has filed a bill that if passed would require ERCOT board members reside in the state.
“When I learned that five out of the fifteen board members did not live in Texas and were not experiencing the freezing conditions like the rest of us, my constituents and fellow Texans demanded that change,” Springer said in a statement. “It is unacceptable that Texans went days without heat for their homes and no running water due to the mismanagement at ERCOT.”
U.S. Rep. Colin Allred said the resignations are a step in the right direction, stressing that an investigation into ERCOT and the state’s “failure to prepare for the storm and failure to communicate with the public” is needed.
“This is a first step towards holding those responsible for this crisis to account but it does not absolve them, or state leaders, from answering questions and providing the clarity on their failure that Texans deserve,” Allred said.
Representatives from ERCOT are expected to testify before members of the state House and Senate on Thursday.
“We look forward to working with the Texas Legislature, and we thank the outgoing Board Members for their service,” ERCOT said in a statement.