PUC Chair resigns after criticism in aftermath of Texas power crisis

The chairwoman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the agency that regulates the state’s electric, telecommunication, and water and sewer utilities, resigned Monday, according to a resignation letter provided to Fox 7 Austin.

The Governor Greg Abbott-appointed commissioners came under public criticism in the aftermath of Texas’ power crisis that left millions of people in the dark for days and claimed the lives of dozens.

On Monday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called for PUC chairwoman DeAnn Walker and Electric Reliability Council of Texas CEO Bill Magness to resign.


The PUC is charged with overseeing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, a nonprofit entity that manages and operates the electricity grid that covers much of the state.

Lawmakers began to call on the commissioners to resign Thursday after hearing testimony from Walker during the House and Senate committee hearings on the power outages. Rep. Jared Patterson, R-Frisco, wrote on Twitter that he has "zero confidence" in her after the Thursday hearings and that she "must" resign.

Walker came under fire during questioning for not doing more to prevent the crisis from occurring. Lawmakers probed how much information she had on whether the state’s power system could withstand winter storms, and questioned why she didn’t raise concerns about the possibility of outages sooner.

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

However, many state leaders felt during her testimony, Walker deflected blame and offered no suggestions to prevent another blackout from occurring. 


Walker also wrote the gas companies, Railroad Commission, electric generators, distribution utilities, municipally owned utilities, ERCOT and the legislature all share the blame by failing "to take the necessary steps for the past ten years to address issues."

Governor Greg Abbott's Press Secretary Renae Eze released this statement about Walker's 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."

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has also asked for the resignation of Electric Reliability Council of Texas CEO Bill Magness. Patrick said Magness’ failure to plan for the worst case scenario and communicate effectively during the storm showed he should not be the one to oversee coming reforms.