Board leaders of Texas' grid operator resign after outages

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Four board leaders of Texas' embattled power grid operator said Tuesday they will resign following outrage over more than 4 million customers losing power during a deadly winter freeze last week.

All of the board directors stepping down, including Chairwoman Sally Talberg, live outside of Texas, which only intensified criticism of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

The resignations are effective Wednesday, a day before Texas lawmakers are set to begin hearings over the outages in the state Capitol. The board members acknowledged “concerns about out-of-state board leadership" in a letter to grid members and the state's Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT.

Historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures in Texas last week left millions without power and water for days. The storm was part of any icy blast across the Deep South t hat is blamed for at least 80 deaths.

Fed's Powell: Recovery incomplete, high inflation unlikely

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell underscored the U.S. economy's ongoing weakness Tuesday in remarks that suggested that the Fed sees no need to alter its ultra-low interest rate policies anytime soon.

“The economic recovery remains uneven and far from complete, and the path ahead is highly uncertain,” Powell said in testimony to the Senate Banking Committee.

Powell's comments are in contrast to the increasing optimism among many analysts that the economy will grow rapidly later this year. That outlook has also raised concerns, though, about a potential surge in inflation and has fueled a sharp increase in longer-term interest rates this year.

Most economists say they think the Fed’s continued low rates, further government financial aid and progress in combating the viral pandemic could create a mini-economic boom as soon as this summer. Powell acknowledged the potential for a healthier economy. But he stressed the personal hardships caused by the pandemic, especially for unemployed Americans.

Powell's focus on the economy's challenges reflects his reluctance to send any signal that the Fed is considering pulling back on its efforts to boost economic growth and hiring. The Fed cut its benchmark short-term interest rate to nearly zero last March in response to the pandemic recession. It is also purchasing $120 billion a month in bonds in an effort to hold down longer-term rates.