AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or the group that operates the state’s power grid, will have a new leader come Oct. 1 after its last one was terminated over a year ago.
After an “exhaustive nationwide search” by ERCOT’s Board of Directors, Pablo Vegas was chosen to take over as president and CEO of ERCOT, according to a release from the council. As required by state law, his selection was approved by the Public Utility Commission, the entity that oversees ERCOT, earlier on Tuesday.
He currently serves as the executive vice president of NiSource and group president of NiSource Utilities. NiSource covers six states: Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland, its website reads.
According to Vegas’ employment agreement, which has been made public on the ERCOT website, he’s set to receive a base salary of $990,000 when he becomes head of ERCOT. Any annual increases to his compensation will be determined by the Board of Directors. Vegas is also eligible to receive incentive payments for achieving milestones set by the ERCOT board.
Vegas previously worked in Texas and with ERCOT, as he was president and chief operating officer for AEP Texas in 2008. ERCOT said he’s also worked with IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Andersen Consulting.
“I’m excited to return to Texas both personally and professionally. Texas is the fastest growing electric grid in the nation with peak demand larger than any other state, and leads the nation in advancing reliable resources,” Vegas said in a press release. “Texas leaders have faced the challenges in the ongoing energy transition head-on and are committed to driving improvements in the energy economy for the benefit of generations to come. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead an exceptional organization of people and make a positive impact on millions of Texans.”
ERCOT said Brad Jones will continue as interim CEO until Oct. 1, when Vegas is supposed to step in, and help with the transition.
Previous President and CEO Bill Magness was issued a termination notice in March 2021 after ERCOT received widespread criticism in the wake of the deadly February 2021 winter storm. Millions were left in the dark and cold for days after power generators failed in the subfreezing temperatures.
In a December 2021 report from the Texas Department of State Health Services, the agency said the winter storm is estimated to have caused 246 deaths across the state.
Jones was then appointed as interim president and CEO in April 2021.
Several ERCOT members also resigned following the storm, and as a result, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed two bills into law to reform ERCOT in June 2021. The bills, among other things, required electricity providers operating on the ERCOT grid to weatherize their equipment.