The state energy grid operator has been run by an interim chief because the earlier CEO was fired following the lethal 2021 winter storm that crashed a lot of the grid.
AUSTIN, Texas — Pablo Vegas, a utility government who lives in Ohio, would be the new chief of Texas’ essential energy grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. ERCOT’s board introduced Vegas’ hiring Tuesday.
Vegas turns into ERCOT’s first everlasting chief government in 16 months, since former CEO Bill Magness was fired in the aftermath of the February 2021 energy grid catastrophe, when a robust winter storm left tens of millions of Texans with out energy for days after freezing temperatures shut down pure gasoline services and energy crops, which depend on one another to maintain electrical energy flowing. Hundreds of people died.
Following the lethal blackouts, Texas politicians lambasted ERCOT’s board of administrators as a result of a few of them didn’t reside in Texas, and lots of of them resigned. At the time, a bipartisan chorus from state lawmakers expressed frustration and disbelief that many ERCOT board members, regardless of in depth vitality trade experience, lived outdoors the state.
Now, a non-Texan will lead the state’s essential energy grid.
Vegas is government vice chairman of NiSource Inc., and group president of the company’s utilities. The Indiana-based NiSource delivers pure gasoline to roughly 3.1 million prospects throughout six states and electrical energy to about 470,000 prospects in Indiana, based on the company.
Vegas, who was born in Peru and labored as president and chief working officer for transmission company AEP Texas from 2008 to 2010, didn’t reply to questions emailed from The Texas Tribune on Monday. Vegas held a wide range of different senior government roles at AEP along with his two-year stint on the company’s Texas department. AEP, which offers energy to greater than 5 million prospects throughout 11 states, is predicated in Columbus, Ohio, the place Vegas lives together with his household.
ERCOT’s board of administrators didn’t disclose how a lot Vegas can be paid. Magness told lawmakers he had earned $803,000 yearly.
Brad Jones, ERCOT’s interim CEO who was employed to the momentary position after the disaster however didn’t plan to remain on the job this lengthy, earns $500,000 yearly, based on his contract, which the Tribune obtained by means of an open data request. Jones may even obtain a one-time lump sum of $169,640 when he receives his remaining paycheck from ERCOT.
It is unclear how a lot independence Vegas and ERCOT may have in working the facility grid. Gov. Greg Abbott, who’s working for reelection in November, has closely controlled how — and whether or not — ERCOT communicates grid data with the general public because the 2021 winter storm, which has change into a serious marketing campaign concern for his Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke.
Current and former vitality company administrators, energy grid staff, longtime vitality analysts and consultants have advised the Tribune that Abbott additionally has had an unprecedented quantity of energy over the ERCOT CEO search and vetoed a minimum of one candidate — a former government of a giant Texas electrical energy supplier and former chief government of a California utility — whereas his favored candidate, the chief government of the Austin-based Lower Colorado River Authority, repeatedly turned down the job.
Vegas has not contributed money to Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick or House Speaker Dade Phelan, based on a Tribune evaluation of marketing campaign finance data.
Eric Lau contributed reporting to this story.
This story comes from our KHOU 11 News companions at The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media group that informs Texans – and engages with them – about public coverage, politics, authorities, and statewide points.