QUESTION: Please name all the members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and how much are they paid. How are these board members selected?
ANSWER: Well, I’ll give you the current list, but as I suspect you know, there were quite a few abrupt resignations after the debacle that was the ERCOT power grid during the record-breaking winter weather in February.
ERCOT bylaws call for a 16-member board of directors that includes: five “independent members” who aren’t affiliated with any of ERCOT’s member organizations; nine representatives of the market sectors (municipal-owned utilities or investor-owned utilities, for example); the chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (who is a non-voting member); the public counsel of the Office of Public Utility Counsel as an ex officio voting director representing residential and small commercial consumers; and the ERCOT CEO as an ex officio voting director.
The market sector representatives are elected by members belonging to each segment (according to the bylaws I found online). The unaffiliated members are selected through a nominating process that uses an executive search firm, nomination by the board and then an election by ERCOT members. There are criteria those unaffiliated directors must meet. For instance, the bylaws say they must have “experience in one or more of these fields: senior corporate leadership; professional disciplines of finance, accounting, engineering or law; regulation of utilities; risk management; and information technology;” and not be connected to an ERCOT market participant. The Public Utility Commission of Texas also must approve of the selection of the unaffiliated board members.
Those unaffiliated directors receive $87,000 a year, with extra compensation for serving as a chair of a board committee, board chairman or vice chairman, for instance. Their travel expanses also are reimbursed. Not all board members — specifically the ones representing member industries — are paid. The CEO, Bill Magness, makes more than $800,000 annually, according to ERCOT’s 2018 tax form, the most recent filing available.
After the recent resignations, the chair, vice chair and six other board positions are vacant. Here are the remaining board members:
Mark Carpenter: Represents investor-owned utility segment, senior vice president of transmission and distribution operations at Dallas-based Oncor;
Lori Cobos: Represents residential consumers as the chief executive and public counsel for the Texas Office of Public Utility Counsel;
Keith Emery: Represents independent power marketer segment, vice president of origination for Nebraska-based Tenaska Power Services, which has facilities in Texas;
Nick Fehrenbach: Represents commercial consumer segment, manager of regulatory affairs and utility franchising for the city of Dallas;
Kevin Gresham: Represents independent generator segment, vice president of government relations and external affairs for Austin-based RWE Renewables Americas; and
Sam Harper: Represents industrial segment consumers, director of energy for Gerdau Steel, which is based in Brazil but has facilities in Texas and elsewhere in the United States.
Q: What can you tell us about the new publisher of the Panola Watchman?
A: I can tell you a lot, actually, thanks to a news story the paper published in September when Alexander Gould was named not just publisher of the Watchman, but also the regional publisher for our M. Roberts Media sister papers in Marshall and Kilgore.
Gould, who graduated from Waynesburg University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in communication, has worked in East Texas before. He was employed at another sister company, Advocate Digital Media, in Longview between May 2013 and January 2016.
Before arriving in Carthage, he was vice president of sales and general manager at the Herald & Review newspaper in Decatur, Illinois, and publisher at The Meridian Star in Meridian, Mississippi.
He and his wife, Jennifer, have twin daughters, Dakota and Phoebe. They are originally from Pennsylvania, where he landed his first newspaper job, as editor of the Boyertown Area Times, in Boyertown, Pennsylvania, and he’s worked in a variety of roles in the industry over the years.