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ERCOT is in charge of Texas' power, but one-third of its board lives out of state

Madlin Mekelburg
Austin American-Statesman

Texas controls its own electrical grid, but at least five of the fifteen people serving on the operator’s board of directors do not appear to live in the state, a fact that has angered some state officials as Texas navigates widespread blackouts that have left millions without power.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, ERCOT, is a nonprofit that operates the state’s electrical grid and manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million customers across the state — about 90% of the state’s electric load, according to its website. 

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Five of the board members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, do not live in the state, a fact that has angered many state officials as the state responds to widespread blackouts.

ERCOT is governed by a board of directors that includes representatives from each industry segment (investor-owned utilities, municipally-owned utilities, cooperatives, generators, power marketers and retail electric providers) and each consumer segment (industrial, commercial and residential), plus a handful of unaffiliated or independent members.

In total, the board includes a chair, vice chair and 13 board members, plus eight alternates.

Five of those members, including the chairwoman and vice chairman, do not appear to live in Texas.

"Unacceptable!" said state Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, in a tweet. "This must be addressed."

State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, called it "completely ridiculous" and said he would file a bill during this year's legislative session to require all officers and directors at ERCOT to live in the state.

Board members are appointed by a nominating committee made up of current members. 

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Sally Talberg, chairwoman of ERCOT's board of directors, is a former state utility regulator who lives in Michigan, according to her biography on ERCOT's website.

Vice Chairman Peter Cramton is a professor of economics at the University of Cologne in Germany and at the University of Maryland. His Linkedin profile lists his location as Del Mar, Calif.

Three board members also appear to live outside of Texas.

Vanessa Anesetti-Parra, a board member, serves as vice president of regulatory and compliance at Just Energy and lists her location on Linkedin as Toronto.

Board member Terry Bulger spent his career as a banking professional in the United States, Canada and in Europe. His biography on the ERCOT website states that he is a resident of Wheaton, Ill, a Chicago suburb.

Raymond Hepper, another board member, retired in 2018 from ISO New England, which operates the electric system and wholesale markets for the six states that make up the area. His Linkedin profile lists his residency as Auburn, Maine.

None of the five board members could be reached for comment on Tuesday.

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