The chairman and last remaining member of the Public Utility Commission, Arthur D’Andrea, has been forced to resign in the wake of the winter storms last month that have put the commission under intense scrutiny in recent weeks.
Appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott, the resignation came hours after Texas Monthly revealed a private March 9 call D’Andrea had with “out-of-state investors who profited from the crisis” in which he reassured them “he was working to keep their windfall safe.”
In a statement, Gov. Abbott said:
Tonight, I asked for and accepted the resignation of PUC Commissioner Arthur D’Andrea. I will be naming a replacement in the coming days who will have the responsibility of charting a new and fresh course for the agency. 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.
As the left-of-center magazine notes, Abbott promoted D’Andrea to the embattled PUC chairmanship earlier this month after the two other appointees resigned.
Earlier this week the Texas Senate moved rapidly to force the PUC to “reprice” electricity rates charged during and immediately after the storm. At the peak of the storm, ERCOT set the price of electricity at $9,000 per megawatt-hour – thousands of times the normal rate – and left it there for several days.
The clock is ticking on the repricing move. The House must pass, and the governor sign, the Senate’s legislation by this Friday because that is when the prices set and energy trades executed during the storm will be finalized.
This story is developing and has been updated with additional information.