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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Top board leaders of Texas’ embattled power grid operator said Tuesday they will resign following outrage over more than 4 million customers losing electricity last week during a deadly winter storm, including many whose frigid homes lacked heat for days in subfreezing temperatures.

The resignations are the first since the crisis began in Texas, and calls for wider firings remain in the aftermath of one of the worst power outages in U.S. history.

All of the four board directors who are stepping down, including Chairwoman Sally Talberg, live outside of Texas, which only intensified criticism of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The resignations are effective Wednesday — a day before Texas lawmakers are expected to sharply question grid managers and energy officials about the failures during hearings at the state Capitol.

A fifth board member also resigned, and a candidate for a director position who also does not live in Texas withdrew his name.

The board members acknowledged “concerns about out-of-state board leadership” in a letter to grid members and the state’s Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT. During the crisis, ERCOT officials removed contact information for board members off its website, saying they had become the target of threats.

“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.

The other board members are vice chairman Peter Cramton, Terry Bulger and Raymond Hepper. Talberg lives in Michigan and Bulger lives in Wheaton, Illinois, according to their biographies on ERCOT’s website. Cramton and Hepper spent their careers working outside Texas. The fifth board member leaving is Vanessa Anesetti-Parra.

There are a total of 16 members on ERCOT’s board, which appoints officers who manage the grid manager’s day-to-day operations.

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Historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures in Texas last week left millions without power and water for days. The storm was part of any icy blast across the Deep South t hat is blamed for at least 80 deaths.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has largely blamed the outages on ERCOT and called for investigations. But the problems were wider than ERCOT, including power plants that were knocked offline by the extreme cold and natural gas producers didn’t protect wellheads from freezing.

“The lack of preparedness and transparency at ERCOT is unacceptable, and I welcome these resignations,” Abbott said in a statement. “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 president Bill Magness has said Texas’ power grid — which is uniquely isolated from the rest of the U.S. — was on the brink of collapse in the early hours of Feb. 15 as power plants froze in the cold and a record demand for electricity to heat home overwhelmed the system. He has defended the outages as a necessity, while Abbott has accused ERCOT of misleading Texas about the readiness of the grid.

After ERCOT removed board members’ information from the website, Magness conceded it was public information in a call last week with reporters but did not describe the nature of the threats.

“It was a security, safety idea,” Magness said.

Cramton, whose page on the professional networking site LinkedIn lists him as living in California, declined comment when contacted Tuesday. The other board members did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Koenig reported from Dallas.

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Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomos resignation

The Albany Times Union’s editorial board has joined in on calls for New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCuomo accuser says governor did not take sexual harassment training NY Senate advances bill to repeal Cuomo's emergency powers Two female aides to Cuomo leave administration MORE (D) to resign amid a series of controversies surrounding the elected official, writing that Cuomo “has squandered the public’s trust at a time when it’s needed more than ever.” 

The editorial board in a Saturday opinion piece specifically cited revelations of Cuomo’s administration intentionally withholding coronavirus death toll numbers in nursing homes, as well as multiple allegations of sexual harassment against the governor. 

“Amid an enduring pandemic, it is vital that people can believe what their governor and their government are telling them, and that the rules they’re asked to follow and the sacrifices they’re asked to make are truly in the interest of public health,” the editorial board wrote. 

“It is time for Mr. Cuomo to resign, and for those who helped him deceive the public to go, too,” it added. 

The board went on to say that while it endorsed Cuomo for governor three times and the elected official has “brought to fruition a host of important progressive goals,” the Democrat has now “lost the credibility he needs to lead this state, especially in the midst of a public health crisis.” 

The board also cited that the “excuse for the lie” of withholding the true coronavirus death toll in nursing homes “was a lie, too.” 

Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, said that the administration did not release complete data on deaths because it was worried about what response it would prompt from former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE’s Justice Department. 

However, the board noted that The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal found that DeRosa and other top Cuomo aides pushed state health officials to alter a July public report on nursing home deaths because the death toll “was higher than Mr. Cuomo’s close aides wanted it to be,” the Times Union board wrote. 

“New York cannot get through this public health crisis if New Yorkers don’t know whether the governor and health officials are being honest with them from one day to the next,” the editorial board argued.

“It did not have to be like this,” the board continued. “Mr. Cuomo was, by and large, doing a commendable job leading the state through the pandemic. People knew what a tough situation he faced. If he made a bad call a year ago, New Yorkers would have understood if he’d just been straight with them.”

“But Mr. Cuomo didn’t trust New Yorkers with the truth,” the Times Union board added. 

The opinion piece came ahead of a third former Cuomo aide coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment against him, including touching her lower back at a reception and kissing her hand once as she sat up from her desk.

Despite growing calls for his resignation, Cuomo in a news conference on Wednesday said that he intended to remain in office. 

“Some politicians will always play politics. That’s the nature of the beast. I don’t think today is a day for politics,” Cuomo said at the time. “I wasn’t elected by politicians, I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I’m not going to resign.” 

He went on to say, "I work for the people of the state of New York, they elected me, and I’m going to serve the people of the state of New York."

Tags Albany The Wall Street Journal The New York Times Andrew Cuomo Donald Trump New York sexual harassment allegations COVID-19 nursing home deaths Andrew Cuomo sexual harassment allegations New York COVID-19 nursing home scandal

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