Top Texas utility regulator resigns after days-long power outages
The head of Texas’s public utilities board resigned on Monday, hours after the state’s lieutenant governor called on her to do so.
In a resignation letter obtained by The Dallas Morning News, Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) head DeAnn Walker acknowledged her own responsibility for the state’s failure to prepare for devastating winter weather this month that left millions without power while calling on others to do the same.
“I believe others should come forward in dignity and duty and acknowledge how their actions or inactions contributed to the situation,” she wrote, according to the newspaper.
“The gas companies, the Railroad Commission, the electric generators, the transmission and distribution utilities, the electric cooperatives, the municipally owned utilities, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas [ERCOT], and finally the Legislature all had the responsibility to foresee what could have happened and failed to take the necessary steps for the past ten years to address the issues that each of them could have addressed,” she wrote.
Her resignation came in the face of widespread criticism of public officials in the state over the storm and resulting blackouts. The state reported at least 50 deaths due to the storm and cold weather, and millions endured freezing temperatures in their homes for days.
Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick (R) called on Walker to resign in a statement earlier Monday, blaming her and other officials for claiming that the state was prepared for the storm beforehand.
“Both the PUC Chair and the ERCOT CEO said they were prepared the day before the storm hit in full force, but obviously they were not,” Patrick said, referring to Walker as well as Bill Magness, head of the state’s deregulated power grid.
“Magness and others testified that we were within minutes of losing the state’s entire power grid, which could have taken months to repair while Texans were in the dark. It is obvious ERCOT and the PUC simply did not anticipate the magnitude of the storm or the amount of power it would require,” Patrick said.
“I do not make this call for the resignation of the PUC Chair and the ERCOT CEO lightly. These are two good people who have worked very hard,” he added.