There’s Only One Power Regulator Left in Texas After Crisis
(Bloomberg) -- The Texas agency that oversees the state’s power sector is down to a single regulator after two of three members resigned in the wake of last month’s blackouts.
Shelly Botkin, a commissioner for the Public Utility Commission of Texas, submitted her resignation Monday, according to an agency spokesperson. Her departure follows that of former Chair DeAnn Walker, who stepped down last week after drawing the ire of Texas lawmakers when she repeatedly disavowed any responsibility for the disaster. The agency can still function with only one sitting commissioner, according to state law.
The exits come as Texas continues to grapple with the fallout of an energy disaster that crippled the electric grid, cut power to millions during a deep winter freeze and left dozens dead. Amid the crisis, the utility commission ordered electricity prices to be set at $9,000 a megawatt-hour, a decision that has since forced one utility into bankruptcy and left the state’s power market with a $2.4 billion shortfall as companies face sky-high energy bills.
Botkin’s resignation comes after Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick called on the utility commission and the state’s grid operator to reverse $16 billion in alleged overcharges tied to that price cap. Botkin and recently appointed commission Chair Arthur D’Andrea said on Friday they weren’t inclined to change prices, in spite of a recommendation from Texas’s independent market monitor that they do so.
The turmoil has also spilled over to the management of the state’s electric grid. Bill Magness, the chief executive officer of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, will also step down, the grid’s remaining board members announced last week. Seven Ercot board members have also resigned.
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