ERCOT makes major leadership changes, names COO

ERCOT has made four leadership changes. Photo courtesy of ERCOT

Last week, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, announced a reorganization amongst its leadership.

“These changes were designed to harness the collaborative talents and strengths of our experienced team in supporting the delivery of reliable and efficient energy to the millions of Texans that we serve,” Pablo Vegas, ERCOT President and CEO, says in a news release.

Effective September 1, four ERCOT leaders have new titles and positions.

Woody Rickerson has been named to the newly created position of senior vice president and COO of ERCOT. He previously served as vice president of system planning and weatherization. In his new role, he will maintain control over weatherization and planning while adding grid and commercial operations to his responsibilities.

“This new position will leverage Rickerson’s deep operations experience and support ERCOT’s continued investments in grid innovations,” adds Vegas.

Kristi Hobbs, who previously served as vice president of corporate strategy and public utility commission relations, will replace Rickerson as vice president of system planning and weatherization and will report directly to Rickerson. She will oversee transmission planning, generator interconnection activities, modeling, and weatherization in her new role.

ERCOT announced two other appointments:

  • Betty Day, vice president of security and compliance and chief compliance officer, has assumed oversight of business continuity.
  • Rebecca Zerwas will serve as director of state policy and public utility commission relations, board liaison.

“As our industry faces dynamic changes, ERCOT is continuously evolving and making the necessary improvements to the grid to support the needs of a growing population and robust economy," Vegas says. "This reorganization allows us to sharpen our focus on daily operations while implementing our long-term strategic plan."

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

A Rice University professor studied the Earth's carbon cycle in the Rio Madre de Dios to shed light on current climate conditions. Photo courtesy of Mark Torres/Rice University

Carbon cycles through Earth, its inhabitants, and its atmosphere on a regular basis, but not much research has been done on that process and qualifying it — until now.

In a recent study of a river system extending from the Peruvian Andes to the Amazon floodplains, Rice University’s Mark Torres and collaborators from five institutions proved that that high rates of carbon breakdown persist from mountaintop to floodplain.

“The purpose of this research was to quantify the rate at which Earth naturally releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and find out whether this process varies across different geographic locations,” Torres says in a news release.

Torres published his findings in a study published in PNAS, explaining how they used rhenium — a silvery-gray, heavy transition metal — as a proxy for carbon. The research into the Earth’s natural, pre-anthropogenic carbon cycle stands to benefit humanity by providing valuable insight to current climate challenges.

“This research used a newly-developed technique pioneered by Robert Hilton and Mathieu Dellinger that relies on a trace element — rhenium — that’s incorporated in fossil organic matter,” Torres says. “As plankton die and sink to the bottom of the ocean, that dead carbon becomes chemically reactive in a way that adds rhenium to it.”

The research was done in the Rio Madre de Dios basin and supported by funding from a European Research Council Starting Grant, the European Union COFUND/Durham Junior Research Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation.

“I’m very excited about this tool,” Torres said. “Rice students have deployed this same method in our lab here, so now we can make this kind of measurement and apply it at other sites. In fact, as part of current research funded by the National Science Foundation, we are applying this technique in Southern California to learn how tectonics and climate influence the breakdown of fossil carbon.”

Torres also received a three-year grant from the Department of Energy to study soil for carbon storage earlier this year.

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