The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has named a non-Texan as its new CEO.
ERCOT’s board announced the hiring of Ohio utility executive Pablo Vegas on Tuesday.
Vegas was born in Peru, according to the Texas Tribune.
The new CEO will be paid an annual base salary of $990,00, according to his contract that was approved by ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission.
He’ll also be paid a one-time bonus of nearly $250,000 at the end of 2022.
Additionally, Vegas will receive $500,000 relocation assistance.
In addition to the base salary and initial bonuses, ERCOT will also pay Vegas $6.68 million over six years in make-whole payments “to make up for the earned payments, incentives and grants [Vegas] is foregoing from his current employer,” the contract reads.
He could also reach a variety of payment-incentive benchmarks that could increase his pay even more - by up to $420,000.
Vegas will receive 25 days of vacation each year.
He will begin his leadership role of Texas’ main power grid operator on Oct. 1. Future salary increases will be considered by the ERCOT board.
Vegas becomes ERCOT’s first permanent chief executive since former CEO Bill Magness was fired in the aftermath of the February 2021 power grid disaster. ERCOT’s board hired Vegas despite heavy backlash after the blackouts from Texas lawmakers who criticized the fact that many of the power grid’s board back then didn’t live in Texas.
Magness earned $803,000 annually while interim CEO Brad Jones made $500,000 annually, the Tribune reported.
Vegas is executive vice president of NiSource Inc., a company based in Indiana that provides natural gas to approximately 3.1 million customers across six states and electricity to about 470,000 customers in Indiana. He is also group president of the company’s utilities.
How much freedom Vegas and ERCOT will have in running the power grid remains a big question.
Gov. Greg Abbott has closely controlled how — and whether — ERCOT communicates grid information with the public since the 2021 winter storm, which has become a major campaign issue for his Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke. The two will square off in a huge election in November. Abbott is seeking his third term in office.
Below is the contract ERCOT offered to Vegas.