ERCOT Board Members Exit After Texas Outages

ERCOT Board Members Exit After Texas Outages

ERCOT Board Members Exit After Texas Outages

Top board members of Texas power grid operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) resigned yesterday after a cold front and deadly winter storm left Texans without electricity.

All of the five board members of ERCOT who are resigning live outside the state of Texas.

ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers — representing about 90 percent of the state’s electric load. As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects more than 46,500 miles of transmission lines and 680+ generation units. It also performs financial settlement for the competitive wholesale bulk-power market and administers retail switching for 8 million premises in competitive choice areas. ERCOT is a membership-based 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, governed by a board of directors and subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature. –

That “flow of electric power” was non-existent for some Texans last week. What did Bill Magness, CEO and President of ERCOT, have to say about this? Well, The outages were a result of an “out of balance” supply and demand, you see.

“As we saw the supply get lower and the demand get higher, the rotating outages were implemented. That’s what we drill for, that’s what we prepare for.”-Bill Magness, CEO/President, ERCOT

You drill for power outages? How about drilling and preparing to not have to get to that point? How about understanding the basics of supply and demand? Did you all practice your speeches and requests in the event you had to ask Texans to boil water? And now, Board members of ERCOT-none of them who were inconvenienced or the least bit uncomfortable are going off the grid permanently. Among those leaving ERCOT are Vice-Chair, Peter Cramton, who received roughly $87,000 in compensation, worked an average of five hours a week and lives in California. Terry Bulger, another board member, resides in Illinois, logged about 8 hours weekly and received roughly $65,250 in compensation. Raymond Hepper, Sally Talberg and Vanessa Anesetti-Parra-all gone. All received roughly between $92,600 and $100,100. Incoming director, Craig Ivey, former CEO of Consolidated Edison in New York, also submitted a letter to withdraw his petition for approval as an unaffiliated director, citing concerns stakeholders recently expressed of having out-of-state directors. Ivey currently resides in Florida. How much does CEO Bill Magness command? Try about $883,264. I mean, it’s hard to have accountability when you are just a Board Member and working out-of-state and clocking in about five hours a week on your time card, right? But what about the CEO who is raking in almost a million a year? Crickets.

The outgoing ERCOT Board Members did apologize, sort of…

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.”-ERCOT Board Members

Yeah. Our hearts go out to you in the tragedy of this emergency. Peace out, suckers.

This wasn’t the first rodeo of a winter storm knocking out the grid in Texas. In fact, there were findings in a report to outline mitigation strategies after a storm in 2011. This report outlined failures of Texas’ power grid all the way back to 1989. And while the finger-pointing continues (depending on which political camp one is in), the startling fact that millions have gone without power and water for days on end, while Board Members refuse to comment aside of a blanket apology on the way out the door speaks volumes. Our hearts go out to you. They’ll throw in their “thoughts and prayers” after a hot shower whilst sipping tea by the fire.

So much for accountability and consequences. There will be a board meeting today when they will probably be given their “golden parachutes” to land wherever they do (preferably somewhere with water and electricity). They will box up their desk ferns and belongings and ride off into the sunset. Illinois, California, anywhere. Anywhere but Texas. We wait and see as the story unfolds.

ERCOT CEO likened his organization to being the “traffic cops” or the “air traffic controllers” to the Texas grid. Really? I’d say he’d better stop insulting traffic cops and air traffic controllers. In the meantime, Texans have pulled together to help each other out. In all seriousness, though, this ERCOT catastrophe was not even a near miss by their “air traffic controllers”. It was a full mid-air collision.

Photo Credit: Oran Viriyincy/FlickR/CC BY-SA 2.0/Cropped

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  • John Wilson says:

    Why are the bad actors always allowed to resign before the heat light is on?

  • Andrew says:

    The irony should not be missed that the R in ERCOT stands for reliability.
    However, it is a political dodge to scapegoat ERCOT board members for the power outage when their demand forecast was adequate, with room to compensate as needed.
    The issue is more complicated than that. Finger pointing is not constructive, tempting as that is. Most important is future corrections.

    The overall electricity demand for this winter storm did not approach summer demand peaks. Capacity on paper was sufficient.

    Likewise it is unfair to single-out wind generation for the problems, although it is fair criticism to point out that wind contributed a disproportionate 40% of the shortfall.

    The primary cause is insufficient winterization. ERCOT lacks the authority to mandate this; it should be anticipated that this will come from federal regulators. Insufficient winterization directly caused a shortfall in supply at the same time there was a surge in demand:
    – nuclear generation dropped production due to iced telemetry
    – reduced natural gas feed pressure prevented some plants from generating
    – grid instability caused some generation to go offline (GTO)
    – wind gear boxes require a regulated environment and turbine blades iced

    Operating cost is another factor:
    – retrofitting wind for winterization is cost prohibitive, best addressed at acquisition time and Texas has roughly tripled wind capacity in the last decade (to just over 25% of total capacity)
    – traditional thermal generation (gas, coal and oil) are usually exposed, rather than housed in a building. This is because it is more efficient in the typical hot climate of Texas.

    External grid feeds are a distraction. Texas has some small external grid connections, but they could not source a significant amount of the shortfall, and they did not have power available because the surrounding regions also had a surge in demand due ti the same winter storm.

    It is worth mentioning that ERCOT requested a 5-day waiver starting Feb 14 (before the outages) from DOE to activate dormant generation that is offline for EPA regulations. The DOE agreed to allow the boost (DOE 202-21-1 page 3), provided that additional power was not sold for less than 1500/MWh which is more than 20 times commercial energy rates in Texas.

    I understand that some pricing rules exist to address gaming and exploitation that has been witnessed in California, but I do not know too much about that.

  • Skillyboo says:

    What happened in Texas also happened in Connecticut, albeit on a smaller scale. Eversource also had been ill prepared while claiming they planned for all contingencies. Seems both planned for bigger bottom lines and now like the blood sucking rats they are they jump ship. All should be investigated and if found guilty of negligence be bankrupted and be only qualified to work at a McJob.

  • Skillyboo says:

    What happened in Texas also happened in Connecticut, albeit on a smaller scale. Eversource also had been ill prepared while claiming they planned for all contingencies. Seems, instead, both planned for bigger bottom lines and now, like the blood sucking rats they are, they jump ship. All should be investigated and if found guilty of negligence be bankrupted and only be qualified to work at a McJob.

  • Quentin Q Quill says:

    What?! I thought this kind of thing wouldn’t happen in Texas because they have a Republican governor.

    • TBlakely says:

      Actually, in Texas the power of the Lieutenant Governor is significantly greater than the Governor… haven’t heard a peep about his involvement, if any, in this mess.

      But to address your snark, in the main Republican controlled states and major municipalities are much, much better led than those controlled by Democrats.

  • […] Redux Transterrestrial Musings: The Democrats & Censorship, also, Long March 9 Victory Girls: ERCOT Board Members Exit After Texas Outages Volokh Conspiracy: Conviction For Praising Prostitutes (“Promoting Prostitution”) […]

  • CapitalistRoader says:

    The governor – any governor, R or D – doesn’t have much power in the face of overwhelming federal regulations and bureaucracy. Did you miss the part about the federal Department of Energy denying TX the permission to start up coal-powered electricity plants in anticipation of a cold spell?

    • Dogbert says:

      A Governor of a State still has a responsibility to protect the citizens health and welfare regardless of what some unelected federal official says. If we had a real Governor in Texas, he would have directed the utilities to do whatever was needed to stabilize the system and worried about the fallout later.

  • Kanu says:

    “What?! I thought this kind of thing wouldn’t happen in Texas because they have a Republican governor.”

    Resigned ERCOT chair Sally Talberg contributed to ActBlue.

    Resigned ERCOT vice-chair Peter Cramton contributed to ActBlue, 314 Action Fund, Biden for President, and Political Action.

    Resigned ERCOT board member Raymond Hepper contributed to Amy McGrath for Senate, Inc.; ActBlue; Sara Gideon for Maine; Biden for President; and Amy (Klobuchar) for America.

    You can look it up for yourself on

    • Theodore Moore says:

      Federal officials refused to allow coal fired power plants to be brought up to the ‘online and spinning’ stage of backup in case of need. A Governor, no matter the party he was a member of, had no say in the matter. Why is no one pointing the finger at the bureaucrats sitting in leather chairs who prevented any backup from being ready in case of need?

      Once the lie is out there additional facts (truth) are verboten.

      In Bedford & Cook (2013), there are several plain statements to the effect that 97% of those expressing an opinion in the Cook et al. survey had said global warming was mostly manmade. The true figure, derivable from Cook et al’s own datafile, was just 0.5%.

      The reason why this central falsehood matters is that the 97% figure continues to be widely cited by ministers and policymakers in justification of the mad mitigation policies that are bidding fair to shut down reliable power sources.

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