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Texas Power Grid Board Members Resign Following Freeze

The Wall Street Journal. logo The Wall Street Journal. 2/23/2021 Katherine Blunt
a car driving down a street next to a snow covered road © Cooper Neill/Bloomberg News

The chair and four other members of the Texas power grid operator’s board are resigning after blackouts left millions across the state without electricity and heat during a deep freeze last week.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said in a regulatory filing Tuesday that chair Sally Talberg will resign effective Wednesday, alongside vice-chair Peter Cramton and board members Vanessa Anesetti-Parra, Raymond Hepper and Terry Bulger.

The resignations from the board, which currently has 15 members, come as Ercot faces public backlash for resorting to widespread rolling blackouts amid the severe winter storm.

Electricity demand spiked as residents cranked their thermostats in subfreezing temperatures, while supplies dropped as power plants and wind turbines tripped offline. As demand threatened to exceed supply, the grid operator ordered the state’s electricity providers to cut power to millions of Texans to relieve strain on the grid. Many were in the dark for days.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last week called for an investigation into Ercot and said its leaders and board members should step down. State leaders and residents have criticized the grid operator for employing a number of directors who reside out of state.

In a joint resignation letter, the board members acknowledged that criticism and said they were stepping aside to “allow state leaders a free hand with future direction and to eliminate distractions.”

Mr. Abbott said in a statement that he welcomed the resignations as a positive step.

“ERCOT leadership made assurances that Texas’ power infrastructure was prepared for the winter storm, but those assurances proved to be devastatingly false,” he said.

Each of the members will remain in their positions until after an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss the crisis.

Craig Ivey, an out-of-state utility-industry veteran who had been vying for a vacant board seat, withdrew his candidacy Tuesday, saying he didn’t wish to “become a distraction.”

“The response to recent events will require the full attention of leaders in the state and at ERCOT,” he wrote in a letter announcing his decision.

Write to Katherine Blunt at Katherine.Blunt@wsj.com

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