With millions of Texans freezing and 24 dead, five members of the board that manages Texas’ electrical grid don’t have to endure the consequences of the power grid’s mismanagement since they live outside of Texas.
The Energy Reliability Council of Texas has come under fire this week due to outages across the state. While ERCOT’s blackouts were supposed to be “rotating,” they have instead lasted for days, and entire communities are still without power. With more winter weather expected, many are demanding answers regarding ERCOT’s management.
The ERCOT board consists of 16 seats, with 15 filled. New board members are chosen by a nominating board consisting of current members. Chair Sally Talberg and Vice Chair Peter Cramton were elected to lead the board this year, neither living in Texas.
Talberg resides in Michigan and was a Michigan Public Service Commissioner before joining the ERCOT board. Cramton is a professor at the University of Michigan and the University of Cologne in Germany, though his social media account says he resides in Del Mar, California.
Other board members who do not reside in Texas are Vanessa Anesetti-Parra, Terry Bulger, and Raymond Hepper.
According to her social media account, Anesetti-Parra lives in Canada, Bulger’s ERCOT profile shows him living in Wheaton, Illinois, and Hepper resides in Maine according to a biography from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
According to ERCOT bylaws, these out-of-state appointments are legal, with Texas residence merely “preferred.” The Texas Legislature is slated to investigate ERCOT, as it was made an emergency priority by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this week.
This is not the first time ERCOT has come under scrutiny in the face of adversity.
In 2011, a winter storm swept the southwestern United States, with ERCOT cutting off power to 3.2 million Texans. A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) investigation concluded that ERCOT failed to winterize its equipment and that “combining forced outages with scheduled outages, approximately one-third of the total ERCOT fleet was unavailable at the lowest point of the event. These extensive generator failures overwhelmed ERCOT’s reserves, which eventually dropped below the level of safe operation. Had ERCOT not acted promptly to shed load, it would very likely have suffered widespread, uncontrolled blackouts throughout the entire ERCOT Interconnection.”
As of now, 500,000 Texans are still without power.