PUC chair resigns in wake of call to energy investors
Arthur D’Andrea, the chair and sole remaining member of the Public Utility Commission, resigned late last week at the request of Gov. Gregg Abbott. D’Andrea pledged to remain on the PUC until Abbott names a replacement. In the announcement Abbott said in part, “Texans deserve to have trust and confidence in the Public Utility Commission, and this action is one of many steps that will be taken to achieve that goal.” Texas Monthly obtained a recording of a March 9 call D’Andrea had with investors to discuss the fallout from the mid-February power crisis, in the midst of a fierce statewide winter storm. In that 48-minute call, D’Andrea promised to put the “weight of the commission” in opposing efforts to reverse skyrocketing power rates during the blackouts. Those efforts are being spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who in effect controls the Texas Senate. That body passed SB 242 last week, calling on the PUC and the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas to correct what Patrick called “billions in pricing errors that occurred” during the winter storm. However, House Speaker Dade Phelan has called repricing “an extraordinary government intervention into the free market, which may have major consequences for both residential and commercial consumers going forward.” The House is holding hearings on restructuring ERCOT and related issues this week.
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