ERCOT appoints new CEO to oversee Texas power grid
While few Texans even knew of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) prior to 2021, we certainly do now. And considering the unreliability and ongoing troubles the state's main power grid operator has seen since Winter Storm Uri, with the broken record of calls for citizens to conserve energy, the announcement of a new CEO and president comes as welcome news.
In a release shared on Tuesday, August 16, ERCOT's board announced the hiring of Pablo Vegas, a utility executive who lives in Ohio, as the power grid operator's first permanent chief executive in 16 months. ERCOT's former CEO Bill Magness was fired in the aftermath of the February 2021 power grid disaster, when the devastating winter storm left millions of Texans without power for days, causing hundreds of deaths.
After Magness' departure, Brad Jones stepped in as interim CEO, and he will continue to serve until Vegas assumes his new position on October 1. Jones will also assist with Vegas' transition into the new role.
Born in Peru, Vegas holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. He has previously interacted with Texas power solutions as president and chief operating officer from 2008 to 2010 for transmission company AEP Texas. Based in Columbus, Ohio — where Vegas currently lives with his wife and three children — AEP Texas provides power to more than 5 million customers across 11 states.
“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 shared in the 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.”
Vegas has held other senior executive roles at AEP, including a brief stint at the company’s Texas branch, and currently serves as the executive vice president of NiSource and group president of NiSource Utilities. His selection follows an exhaustive nationwide search by ERCOT, approved by the Public Utility Commission of Texas as required by Texas law.
"In Pablo, we’ve found a leader for ERCOT with deep experience at one of the nation’s largest regulated utilities, who brings a strong record of operational excellence managing system growth with a diverse and rapidly evolving energy mix. He clearly understands the challenges we face in Texas as one of the fastest growing and most dynamic energy grids in the United States, and how to meet them,” said ERCOT board chair Paul Foster in the release.
“ERCOT has implemented landmark reliability reforms under the outstanding leadership of Interim CEO Brad Jones, and Pablo will put his own extensive background in operations, engineering and customer service to work building on that legacy for the people of Texas.”