AUSTIN, Texas – Top board leaders of Texas’ embattled power grid operator said Tuesday they will resign following outrage over more than 4 million customers losing electricity last week during a deadly winter storm, including many whose frigid homes lacked heat for days in subfreezing temperatures.
The resignations are the first since the crisis began in Texas, and calls for wider firings remain in the aftermath of one of the worst power outages in U.S. history.
All of the five board directors who are stepping down, including Chairwoman Sally Talberg, live outside of Texas, which only intensified criticism of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The resignations are effective Wednesday — a day before Texas lawmakers are expected to sharply question grid managers and energy officials about the failures during hearings at the state Capitol.
Another candidate for a director position, who also does not live in Texas, said he was withdrawing his name.
Four of the departing board members acknowledged “concerns about out-of-state board leadership" in a letter to grid members and the state's Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT. During the crisis, ERCOT officials removed contact information for board members off its website, saying they had become the target of threats.
The board members did not reflect on their own performance in the letter.
“Our hearts go out to all Texans who have had to go without electricity, heat, and water during frigid temperatures and continue to face the tragic consequences of this emergency," the letter read.
The other board members are vice chairman Peter Cramton, Terry Bulger and Raymond Hepper. Talberg lives in Michigan and Bulger lives in Wheaton, Illinois, according to their biographies on ERCOT's website. Cramton and Hepper spent their careers working outside Texas. The fifth board member leaving is Vanessa Anesetti-Parra.