Powering down: Texas grid operator cuts jobs

The state’s main electric grid operator will cut about 5.5 percent of its workforce — 37 jobs — as it prepares to launch a new system of balancing power demands between parts of the state.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas will begin managing the flow of power using a so-called nodal system in December, a system that is supposed to help the network run more efficiently.  The system is several years late in starting up and many hundreds of millions of dollars over budget.

“Although expected as part of our transition from the old ERCOT to the new ERCOT, this is still a very difficult step, and we want to be sure that the employees involved are treated with respect and appreciation,” ERCOT President and CEO Trip Doggett said of the job cuts.

The affected employees will get a severance package, outplacement services, and extended health and counseling benefits.  Managers will also provide letters of reference to emphasize the cuts were due to the organizational changes,  not performance.

A state report released earlier this year concluded ERCOT is overstaffed and in need of an industry-independent board of directors.  Doggett previously announced plans to cut staff, but there don’t appear to be plans to alter the board leadership.