KEY POINTS

  • All five members who are resigning live outside Texas 
  • Gov. Abbott welcomed the decision and said the lack of preparedness at ERCOT was unacceptable
  • Millions of Texans were left without power and heat last week as severe cold triggered blackouts

Facing criticism after a massive blackout in Texas left millions without power during last week's winter storm, five board members of the state's power grid operator have resigned. 

Chairwoman Sally Talberg — who lives in Michigan — Vice-chair Peter Cramton and board members Terry Bulger and Raymond Hepper have resigned from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). 

Vanessa Anesetti-Parra, a director for the independent retail electric provider market segment, will also resign as a board member, NPR reported, citing a Public Utility Commission filing published Tuesday. All the five members live outside Texas. 

The resignations come as the outrage over ERCOT's failure to prepare for the severe cold grows and residents in Texas grapple with the aftermath of power outages. Millions of Texans were left without power and heat last week as severe cold triggered blackouts.  

The company has also been sued by the family of a Texas boy who died of suspected hypothermia during the winter storm. The family accused the energy company of not providing its customers adequate warning and information. 

In a resignation letter, four of the board members acknowledged concerns about out-of-state board leadership at ERCOT. "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.

ERCOT is a nonprofit governed by a board of directors but overseen by the Public Utility Commission. 

Gov. Greg Abbott, who earlier slammed ERCOT over the outages, welcomed the resignations. He said "when Texans were in desperate need of electricity, ERCOT failed to do its job and Texans were left shivering in their homes without power."

"ERCOT leadership made assurances that Texas' power infrastructure was prepared for the winter storm, but those assurances proved to be devastatingly false. The lack of preparedness and transparency at ERCOT is unacceptable, and I welcome these resignations," he said in a statement. The governor added that Texas will continue to investigate ERCOT in order to uncover what went wrong. 

ERCOT also faces a class action lawsuit over its failure to plan for the cold weather. The lawsuit was filed in Harris County on behalf of all current retail customers of ERCOT "who lost electric services or potable water services during the week of February 14, 2021 as a result of ERCOT’s failure to ensure adequate generating capacity," ABC News quoted from the complaint.

ERCOT Chief Executive Bill Magness has said Texas' power grid was minutes away from collapsing on Feb. 15 as power generators went offline in the brutal cold. Terming the outages necessary, he said a record demand for electricity overwhelmed the system. 

Texas was cleaning up a from a weather crisis that exposed weaknesses in its electricity supply Texas was cleaning up from a weather crisis that exposed weaknesses in its electricity supply Photo: AFP / Thomas Shea