Lights Out: Chair of Texas Public Utility Commission resigns in wake of winter storm disaster

Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN/Texas Tribune) — The latest resignations in the wake of Texas’ energy disaster last month now includes chairwoman of the Public Utility Commission, DeAnn Walker, according to a resignation letter obtained by KXAN on Monday.

This comes after several members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) resigned. ERCOT is overseen by the PUC and manages the state’s power grid.

The commission and ERCOT alike have come under fire after millions of people were left in the dark and cold for days during deadly winter storms that ravaged the state in mid-February. The Texas Tribune reported Monday that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called for Walker’s resignation, as well as the resignation of ERCOT CEO Bill Magness.

State lawmakers in the Texas House and Senate held hearings last week to figure out what went wrong with Texas’ power grid and generators and what actions or inactions led to the mass power outages.

“I testified last Thursday in the Senate and House and accepted my role in the situation,” Walker’s resignation letter to Gov. Greg Abbott reads. “I believe others should come forward in dignity and courage and acknowledge how their actions or inactions contributed to the situation.”

The Texas Tribune reported during her testimony, Walker “largely deflected blame to ERCOT and Magness.”

In her resignation letter, Walker went on to say the gas companies, the Railroad Commission, the electric generators, the transmission and distribution utilities, the electric cooperatives, the municipally-owned utilities, ERCOT and the Legislature itself all knew what was coming and did not take the necessary steps to prepare for frigid temperatures since the last major winter storm in 2011.

“Despite the treatment I received from some legislators, I am proud that I spoke the truth,” Walker’s letter reads.

Walker was appointed to the position by Abbott in 2017 for a term that would have expired in September.

Abbott’s press secretary released this statement on his behalf about the resignation:

“The Governor thanks Chairman Walker for her years of service to the State of Texas. Our focus is to continue working collaboratively with the Legislature on reforms to our power system and look forward to passing lasting and meaningful solutions to ensure these tragic events are never repeated.”

Parts of this article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at www.texastribune.org. The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans – and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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