Who are ERCOT's board of directors? Gov Greg Abbott orders probe into Texas power grid operator after snowstorm
Five of the fifteen officials serving on ERCOT's board of directors are non-natives of the state and stay in Toronto, Illinois, Maine or even Germany
As Texas reels from a deadly snowstorm, ERCOT, the state's power grid operator that serves over 26 million Texans, is aiming to avoid a complete blackout by cutting down the power supply to consumers.
As the agency announced that the power outages would continue till the end of the week, residents did not find it acceptable to live in the dark inside freezing homes for such a long time, especially during a snowstorm situation. Over 4.3 million people are now out of power in Texas. They have erupted in virtual protests and outrage against ERCOT all over the Internet.
Who are ERCOT's Board of Directors?
Amid the crisis situation, it has come to light that five of the fifteen officials serving on ERCOT's (The Electric Reliability Council of Texas) board of directors are non-natives of the state itself. The five members, who do not live in Texas, include even the chairwoman and the vice-chairman reported Austin American Statesman.
Just an FYI, five members of the ERCOT board of directors live out of state. the chair lives in Michigan and the vice chair is an economics prof in Cologne Germany. Experts, but not people affected by the failure.— rgratcliffe (@rgratcliffe) February 16, 2021
As per the ERCOT official website, chairwoman Sally Talberg, who was a former state utility regulator, is now a resident of Michigan. Peter Cramton, a professor of economics at the University of Cologne in Germany and at the University of Maryland, serves as the vice-chairman of ERCOT, while living in Del Mar, California - as per his LinkedIn profile.
Board members Vanessa Anesetti-Parra is a resident of Toronto at present. She is the vice president of regulatory and compliance at Just Energy. Among the other two board members, who reside out of Texas, Terry Bulger has a career as a banking professional - completely different from the energy and electrical sector. He lives in Wheaton, a suburb in Chicago, Illinois.
#ERCOT set a new winter peak demand record this evening, reaching 69,150 MW between 6 and 7 p.m. This is more than 3,200 MW higher than the previous winter peak set back in January 2018. Thanks to everyone who has been conserving today. We appreciate it! #conserve #saveenergy pic.twitter.com/eq56LLxcAS— ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) February 15, 2021
Raymond Hopper is another non-native member who lives in Auburn, Maine. He is a retiree from ISO New England which operates the electrical system in six states.
Some of the other members include Terry Bulger, Mark Carpenter, Lori Cobos, Keith Emery and Nick Fehrenbach – some of whom do not even remotely hail from a background in energy and power segment.
ERCOT CEO Bill Magness has revealed that they are unsure how long the power outages will last.
"We needed to step in and make sure that we were not going to end up with Texas in a blackout, which could keep folks without power — not just some people without power but everyone in our region without power — for much, much longer than we believe this event is going to last, as long and as difficult as this event is right now,” he said in a statement, reported Dallas News.
However, he added that an indefinite blackout, in place of smaller power outages could leave Texas without power for an indefinite amount of time, possibly a month even.
That the tornado shelter or “fraidy-hole” as they call it... on my folk’s farm. It’s getting buried in a snowstorm which for Texas is just crazy! They haven’t had electricity for two days and it just started to snow again. Praying for everyone there. Stay warm and safe! pic.twitter.com/jG0yPQPtz1— Angela Kinsey🍩 (@AngelaKinsey) February 17, 2021
Governor Gregg Abbott orders investigation
Amid the power and climate crisis plaguing Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has ordered an investigation into ERCOT, demanding immediate transparency about the situation from them. The Republican governor released an official statement on Twitter about the same.
"We are ordering an investigation into ERCOT and immediate transparency by ERCOT," he tweeted. While his decision was lauded by many, a few others backfired the blame towards him, for deregulating and privatizing ERCOT, and thereby hampering its operational efficiency.
We are ordering an investigation into ERCOT and immediate transparency by ERCOT. pic.twitter.com/Mt2GPlaFuE— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) February 16, 2021
maybe we shouldn’t have deregulated and privatized ERCOT.— ᴄᴏᴍʀᴀᴅᴇ ʜᴀɴᴋ ʜɪʟʟ ☭ (@ComradeHankHill) February 16, 2021
Another user agreed with Abbott's decision terming ERCOT's unreliable actions as 'unacceptable'. Another resident blamed inefficient planning as the reason for the present crisis.
"It’s not an issue with the turbines outright. Places with much colder climates than Texas use wind turbines with no issues. Texas has consistently refused to weatherize their energy infrastructure because “it doesn’t get cold here”. This is the cost of not planning ahead," they wrote.
Agree - This is unacceptable. If the wind turbines are unreliable in these temps then we shouldn’t rely on them. In Abilene we have no water, no power and elderly neighbors who are suffering.— jen green (@jennloves2shop) February 16, 2021
It’s not an issue with the turbines outright. Places with much colder climates than Texas use wind turbines with no issues. Texas has consistently refused to weatherize their energy infrastructure because “it doesn’t get cold here”. This is the cost of not planning ahead.— fishn game (@RUNjOutdoors) February 17, 2021