Austin Texas, September 10, 2020

The Gulf Coast Power Association (GCPA) Board of Directors is pleased to announce that it has selected Tom Payton as the 2020 recipient of the GCPA Pat Wood Power Star Award. This award is presented annually in recognition of the honoree’s significant contributions towards the advancement of competitive energy markets in Texas.

Tom Payton has been prominent in the energy industry for over 40 years, including over 25 years actively involved in the evolving US electric markets, especially in Texas and the Eastern US. Tom fought for and helped develop many of the unique market design elements in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), and more importantly, fought to protect those features as they were threatened over the years. Tom also served on the ERCOT Board of Directors from 2002 until 2006.

Tom was a pioneer in developing demand response resources in the deregulated ERCOT market, including developing the first and largest loads acting as resources (LAARs) and the first controllable loads supplying “generation-type” ancillary services. In addition, Tom developed the first self-serve retail electric provider in ERCOT and negotiated a joint venture Qualified Scheduling Entity and wholesale power marketer that focused on helping other customers accomplish similar goals.

Tom actively promoted extension of the ERCOT Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) transmission expansion into the Panhandle, and otherwise supported expansion of ERCOT’s footprint to bring its benefits to the widest possible group of stakeholders.

Tom was twice selected for the Robert L. Wright Award, presented by the Texas Industrial Energy Consumers for outstanding contributions in Texas energy policy.

Prior to his retirement from Occidental Petroleum in 2013, Tom was in Occidental’s energy management group, most recently as Sr. Vice President Power. Over the years, Tom was responsible for electricity and/or natural gas supply to most of Occidental’s Oil and Gas and Chemical operations throughout the United States. Tom was also responsible for energy regulatory activities at both state and federal levels, marketing of ancillary services and surplus power from company assets, development of new cogeneration facilities and demand response resources at Occidental locations, and operation of Occidental’s self-serve retail electric provider in Texas. Earlier in his career at Occidental, Tom held a variety of engineering, operating and business management positions in Occidental’s natural gas processing and helium businesses. Tom graduated from Cornell University in 1980 with a degree in Chemical Engineering.

Since retiring from Occidental, Tom has spent six years as Chief Operating Officer for a private midstream company focused on CO2 compression and pipeline infrastructure for enhanced oil recovery projects as well as more traditional gas processing and treating activities, most recently adding responsibilities for upstream oilfield operations as well. Tom has also advised clients on complex business and technical disputes and has acted as an expert witness in international arbitration.

Former President of Occidental Energy Ventures Corp and emeritus GCPA Board member Irv Kowenski said, “I had the privilege of working with Tom at Oxy for over 20 years, and I was always impressed with his knowledge, professionalism and commitment to the organization and to the people he worked with. Tom was one the most important figures in the transformation of the electric power industry in the last 20 years. He represented large industrial users when the ERCOT market first deregulated.”

“He played an early critical role in the design and evolution of ERCOT’s markets,” said former Public Utility of Texas (PUCT) Commissioner Ken Anderson. He went on to say, “During my tenure on the PUCT, I can think of no one whose advice I valued more on any ERCOT issue than Tom’s because of his detailed knowledge of the intricacies of ERCOT’s market design and his ability to look beyond parochial self-interest. There is no one who deserves this year’s GCPA Power Star Award more than Tom Payton”.

Former President of Tenaska Power Services and Pat Wood Power Star Award recipient Trudy Harper commented, “Tom Payton is well-known for being one of the most intelligent and competitive people in our industry. Others in our industry have wanted to be known as ‘the smartest guy in the room,’ but I think that we all knew deep down that was a description that could only apply to Tom Payton. Tom’s combination of creativity, vision, stubbornness, and a profound sense of fairness led to many of the market paradigms that have made ERCOT great.”

Tom Payton joins an illustrious list of past recipients including: Tom Foreman, former GCPA Executive Director (2019); Marcie Zlotnik, former Chairman and COO of StarTex Power (2018); Trip Doggett, former ERCOT CEO (2017); John Fainter, former President of the Association of Electric Companies of Texas (2016); Robert Webb, noted attorney and renewable energy advocate (2015); Judy Walsh, former PUCT Commissioner (2014); John Stauffacher, former GCPA Executive Director (2013); Mike Greene, former Vice Chairman of Energy Future Holdings (2012); Marianne Carroll, former Partner at the law firm of Brown McCarroll (2011); Trudy Harper, former President of Tenaska Power Services (2010); Jess Totten, former Director of Competitive Markets at the PUCT (2009); F. John Meyer, former Vice President of Regulatory & Transmission Services for Reliant Energy (2008); Sam Jones, former CEO of ERCOT (2007); and Pat Wood III, former PUCT and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman (2006).

The award is named for Wood who will assist in presenting the award during GCPA’s 35th Annual Fall Conference which will be held virtually on September 29, 30 and October 1, 2020. Pat Wood stated, “I am so proud to honor Tom Payton this year. If there is one certainty in my life, it’s this: behind every successful market practice we have adopted in ERCOT, you will find Tom Payton’s fingerprints. I have known him for a quarter-century and credit him for much of what has set the ERCOT market apart for creating customer value. From his early work for demand response, ancillary service provision and transmission rate design to our work together on the CREZ expansion into the Texas Panhandle – Tom has been a key player in so many arenas. He has a unique ability to articulate a strategic policy vision and then, in a breath, zoom in to work through every detail to make it right. If you are a wholesale or a retail customer in Texas, you owe a load of thanks to Tom for making this a better place to live and work.”

About the Gulf Coast Power Association (GCPA)

GCPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and sustaining a healthy competitive power market. GCPA represents a broad spectrum of segments within the electric power industry and provides a forum for its membership of over 110 corporate and 200 individual members to discuss wide-ranging issues pertaining to the evolving electric market in Texas and the Gulf Coast region. For more information, please visit