Shortly after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called for the current chairman of the Public Utility Commission to be replaced for refusing to retroactively lower electric prices to energy providers, Gov. Greg Abbott says he is standing by his appointee.
The PUC, which oversees the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas, approved a $9,000 per megawatt hour price during the recent winter storms, which resulted in high wholesale prices of electricity to providers and consumers on wholesale variable rate plans.
Yesterday, during a meeting of the Senate Jurisprudence Committee, Patrick pressed Arthur D’Andrea—the PUC commissioner and lone member, after the recent resignation of his two colleagues—to reverse the pricing decision, something D’Andrea argued would be illegal.
In response, Patrick sent a letter to Abbott on Friday evening asking the governor to intervene.
“In light of the PUC Chair’s refusal to take any corrective action, despite the fact that he has the authority and the evidence is clear, I am asking Gov. Abbott to intercede on this issue,” said Patrick.
Abbott quickly responded in a letter to Patrick, saying he agreed with the PUC chair.
“As a former Texas Supreme Court Justice and former Attorney General, I agree with the position of the PUC Chair about his inability to take the action you requested,” said Abbott. “You asked that I ‘intervene to ensure the right thing is done.’ The Governor does not have independent authority to accomplish the goals you seek. The only entity that can authorize the solution you want is the legislature itself. That is why I made this issue an emergency item for the legislature to consider this session.”
Opponents of plans to retroactively revise electric prices during the storm say the change would help unreliable energy producers—such as wind and solar—at the expense of more reliable producers.
The state Legislature is expected to continue reviewing the issue in the coming weeks.