ERCOT Hires New CEO
Thomas F. Schrader to begin tenure with ERCOT on July 26.
Austin â€“ After an eight-month national search, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT) today announced that Thomas F. Schrader will begin his tenure as Chief Executive Officer of ERCOT on July 26. Schrader signed a three-year contract with ERCOT.
ERCOT board chairman Mike Greene expressed great confidence in the boardâ€™s unanimous decision to appoint Schrader to the executive post. â€œTom has extensive experience in the energy industry and he has held senior positions of significance with well-performing utilities,â€? said Greene, referencing Schraderâ€™s positions with Wisconsin Electric and Wisconsin Gas Company. â€œWith Tomâ€™s leadership and management style, he will be an outstanding addition to the ERCOT management team already in place.â€?
Commissioner Paul Hudson, Chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) commended ERCOT for its diligent effort to hire a new CEO and said Schrader appears highly qualified for the position. â€œI believe Tom is enthusiastic about ERCOT and its mission and I am confident that he understands the challenges ahead. He seems very well suited to guide ERCOT, along with the board, as it continues its transformation from startup to a mature organization.â€?
Schrader, 54, has both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Engineering and Applied Sciences from Princeton University. He is originally from Indiana and joins ERCOT with more than 30 years of experience in the utility and energy industry, including over 16 years in senior management roles. He served 12 years as President, CEO, and Vice Chairman of Wisconsin Gas Company. Most recently, he was the COO and then Vice President of Industry Strategy at Silver Spring Networks, a networking technology company developing advanced information and control networks for the utility industry.
Previously, he was the President and COO of WICOR and a Senior Vice President at Wisconsin Electric Power Company. He was also the President and CEO of two start-up companies: Fieldtech, a national meter services firm, and WICOR Energy Services, a retailer of gas commodity services. Early in his career, Mr. Schrader held positions at Public Service Electric and Gas Company in New Jersey and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.
He has been active in the community throughout his career and has served on numerous corporate and community boards. Recently, he served on the advisory board of the Cancer Center of the Medical College of Wisconsin and on the boards of Goodwill Industries and the New Hope Project. He is a Trustee of the Froedtert Hospital Trust in Milwaukee and will continue in this role while he is CEO of ERCOT.
Schrader said, â€œI look forward to working with ERCOT employees, market participants and stakeholders, and with the PUCT and the members of the Texas Legislature. Texasâ€™ restructured retail electric market is one of the best in the nation. My objectives are to build on the successes, to ensure the reliable and secure operation of the electric grid, and to advance a fair and efficient electric marketplace.â€?
Current ERCOT Chief Executive Officer Tom Noel announced his retirement early last fall. Upon his announcement, ERCOT hired the executive search firm of Heidrick and Struggles to conduct an extensive search for Noelâ€™s replacement, in addition to soliciting and receiving applications through the ERCOT website. Over 100 applications were received, from which several candidates were selected to interview with the ERCOT nominating committee.
Greene said, â€œTom Noel has graciously stayed on at ERCOT for several extensions past his original contract until we could find the right individual to fill the vacancy. Iâ€™m delighted that, finally, Tom will get to spend time with his grandkids and family, as well as to travel and explore opportunities of interest to him. We wish him all the best.â€?
ERCOT keeps the lights on in Texas and is one of the largest control areas in the United States. As one of ten regional reliability councils in North America, the organization administers the electric power grid, serves over seven million customers and oversees the operation of 78,000 megawatts of generation and 38,000 miles of transmission lines in the state of Texas. Additionally, ERCOT supports the competitive wholesale and retail markets in Texas and ensures the reliability of the electric grid. ERCOT is overseen by the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Its members include retail consumers, investor- and municipal-owned electric utilities, rural electric cooperatives, river authorities, independent generators, power marketers and retail electric providers.
ERCOTâ€™s board is comprised of a â€œhybridâ€? membership of stakeholders (market participants including utilities, retailers, generators, marketers and consumers) and independent members. One seat is held by the Office of Public Utility Counsel on behalf of residential and small commercial customers. The chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, Paul Hudson, holds a non-voting ex-officio seat. While ERCOT board meetings have always been open to the public, the PUCT recently acted to designate all future board meetings as Open Meetings of the Commission (thus allowing all three commissioners to attend).
ERCOT is a membership-based 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, governed by a board of directors and subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature. Its members include consumers, cooperatives, generators, power marketers, retail electric providers, investor-owned electric utilities, transmission and distribution providers and municipally owned electric utilities.