HOUSTON — The Electrical Reliability Council of Texas determined to power out its chief government on Wednesday after the company, which controls the circulation of electrical energy by way of a lot of the state, turned the goal of blame and scorn for widespread outages throughout final month’s winter storm.
The approaching departure of the chief, Invoice Magness, is the storm’s newest fallout, with lawmakers vowing to hold officials accountable and overhaul the facility system. The chief of the state’s utility regulator, the Public Utility Fee, bowed to mounting strain by resigning on Monday. Seven board members on the council, often called ERCOT, have resigned since last week.
The remainder of the board voted, 6 to 1, on Wednesday night time to switch Mr. Magness, who had led the company since 2016. In an announcement, the board mentioned he would proceed to supervise ERCOT and “work with state leaders and regulators on potential reforms” till a substitute is chosen.
The storm that swept throughout a lot of Texas on Feb. 14, delivering ice, snow and a few of the coldest climate recorded within the state, pushed the facility grid to the brink of collapse. Demand surged and provide plummeted as energy services fell offline.
In information conferences and in testimony earlier than the State Legislature, Mr. Magness defended the selections of grid operators, contending that to avert an entire collapse that they had had just about no different selection than turning to rotating blackouts. “We’d nonetheless be speaking about how we’d get the facility on,” he instructed lawmakers final week, including that he wouldn’t act otherwise if he had been in the identical state of affairs once more.
Even so, the choice had grave implications for thousands and thousands of Texans. Deaths from hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning had been reported across the state. Water systems were knocked out by the lack of energy. Some residents have been saddled with electric bills eclipsing $10,000.
State officers, together with Gov. Greg Abbott and different lawmakers, assigned blame for the outages to ERCOT, however the grid’s failure has additionally animated critics of Texas’ embrace of deregulation, together with its want to have an influence grid of its personal.
Mr. Magness was among the many state utility officers and electrical firm leaders introduced earlier than lawmakers for hours of intense questioning.
Lawmakers argued that ERCOT and others had did not act after earlier winter storms and to adequately put together Texas’ electrical system for harsh situations. However Mr. Magness, in his testimony, argued that ERCOT, an unbiased entity, had adopted a set of tips established by the Legislature.
The chairwoman of the Public Utility Fee, DeAnn T. Walker, resigned within the aftermath of these hearings, saying that her company was not the one one in charge.
“I consider others ought to come ahead in dignity and braveness and acknowledge how their actions or inactions contributed to the state of affairs,” Ms. Walker mentioned in her resignation letter, itemizing fuel and electrical corporations and different state businesses that, she added, “had accountability to foresee what may have occurred and did not take the mandatory steps.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Abbott elevated another member of the utility commission, Arthur D’Andrea, to switch her.