Ex-Michigan regulator resigns from Texas board after power outages

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

The former Michigan Public Service Commission chairwoman has resigned from the same leadership position with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas following major power outages and blackouts in the Lone Star State.

Sally Talberg was among five current and prospective members on the Texas board who will be resigning effective at the end of Wednesday's council meeting, according to a filing with the Public Utility Commission of Texas. The others are Vice Chairman Peter Cramton and members Terry Bulger, Raymond Hepper and Vanessa Anesetti-Parra.

The departures are the first high-profile resignations following last week’s blackouts that left millions of homes without heat and light and dozens of people dead during an historic cold snap.

Sally Talberg

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had called for board members and other leaders of the grid operator, nicknamed ERCOT, to step down. Some board members had received death threats as public outrage over the crisis mounted.

The resignations also came amid concerns about out-of-state leadership. Talberg doesn't live in Texas.

"When Texans were in desperate need of electricity, ERCOT failed to do its job and Texans were left shivering in their homes without power," Abbott said in a Tuesday statement. "ERCOT leadership made assurances that Texas’ power infrastructure was prepared for the winter storm, but those assurances proved to be devastatingly false. The lack of preparedness and transparency at ERCOT is unacceptable, and I welcome these resignations."

The governor vowed to continue investigating ERCOT and "uncover the full picture of what went wrong."

Talberg was appointed to the Michigan Public Service Commission in 2013 by Republican then Gov. Rick Snyder. She was elevated to chairwoman of the commission in 2016 until the summer of 2020. She left the commission at the end of last year.

Before serving on the Texas and Michigan commissions, Talberg was involved in private and public sector positions with a specialization on energy and utility regulation. She once served as an analyst at the state commission as well as the then-Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Talberg also once advised commissioners at the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

Bloomberg News contributed.