Changes To The Public Utility Commission Give Gov. Abbott Influence Over Electric Reliability Council of Texas

Governor Abbott

Changes to The Public Utility Commission will give Governor Greg Abbott influence over the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, also known as ERCOT.

The Commission, which initially consisted of three commissioners, will now be integrated with five new commissioners. The five commissioners will be appointed by Gov. Abbott with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Gov. Abbott’s influence over ERCOT is a consequence of Senate Bill 2154, which was passed by an overwhelming majority of the Senate. ERCOT is overseen by the Public Utility Commission.

The governance change was necessary due to the deadly winter storm in February that left more than four million homes and businesses without power. Over a hundred people died as a result of the power outage because they could not heat their homes.

However, not everyone is happy about the changes. Cyrus Reed, president of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, said, “I am pretty upset by this massive change” in ERCOT’s governance.

“This should be debated in public not snuck in a bill in the dead of night!” Reed continued.

Before the passage of the bill, politicians were not involved in the appointment of ERCOT board members. In addition, commissioners had to be duly qualified in the field of public utilities and utility regulation to be eligible for appointment. The amendments mean only two out of the five commissioners will be required to be have such a background.

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