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Out-of-state ERCOT board members to resign

In the wake of massive electric grid outages that left millions of Texans without power, four out-of-state directors currently serving on the Electric Reliability Council Of Texas Inc.'s board will resign at the end of a Feb. 24 meeting.

Another out-of-state former utility executive who was on track to fill a vacant fifth seat has also withdrawn his candidacy, according to a Feb. 23 notice.

Under Texas statute, ERCOT's board must total 16 members, including five "unaffiliated" directors with outside experience who are selected by other board members to serve three-year terms.

In a joint resignation letter, the four resigning directors — Sally Talberg, Peter Crampton, Terry Bulger and Raymond Hepper cited "recent concerns about out-of-state board leadership at ERCOT."

"Before we step aside, we are beginning the process of reviewing this extreme cold weather event and resulting power crisis," they wrote. "To allow state leaders a free hand with future direction and to eliminate distractions, we are resigning from the board effective after our urgent board teleconference meeting adjourns."

Talberg, the board chairman, previously served as a gubernatorial appointee on the Michigan Public Service Commission from 2013 through 2020, including over four years as chair. Crampton, vice chairman of the board, is a professor of economics at the University of Cologne and the University of Maryland with expertise in auctions and market design.

Bulger, the board's finance and audit committee chairman, most recently served as U.S. chief risk officer for BMO Harris Bank. And Hepper, human resources and governance committee chairman, retired in 2018 from his position as vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for the ISO New England.

Craig Ivey, former president of Consolidated Edison Inc. subsidiary Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc., has also withdrawn as a candidate to fill the board's vacant fifth unaffiliated director position.

"In order to avoid becoming a distraction, I'm requesting that ERCOT withdraw my petition for approval to serve as unaffiliated director," Ivey said in his own letter addressed to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, which has jurisdiction over ERCOT.

According to ERCOT's bylaws, the attendance of at least 50% of seated board directors is needed for a quorum to transact business matters.

"We look forward to working with the Texas legislature, and we thank the outgoing board members for their service," ERCOT Communications Manager Leslie Sopko said in an email.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who called for ERCOT's leadership to resign over the outages, also issued a Feb. 23 statement in response to the resignations.

"The lack of preparedness and transparency at ERCOT is unacceptable, and I welcome these resignations," Abbott said. "The state of Texas will continue to investigate ERCOT and uncover the full picture of what went wrong, and we will ensure that the disastrous events of last week are never repeated."

ERCOT representatives are scheduled to testify at a joint Feb. 25 legislative hearing before state lawmakers. Approximately 4.5 million Texans were without power at the height of what has been described as one of, if not the worst, forced blackout in U.S. history.