Top Texas utility regulator DeAnn Walker resigns following calls to step down
By Jeremy Wallace , Jeremy Blackman & Austin Bureau March 1, 2021
The state’s top utility regulator resigned Monday under increasing pressure from lawmakers in the wake of this month’s deadly power outages.
In her resignation letter, Public Utility Commission Chairwoman DeAnn Walker sounded indignant, saying she had “worked endless hours over the past two and a half weeks to return electric power to the grid,” and that others contributed to the lapse.
“The gas companies, the Railroad Commission, the electric generators, the transmission and distribution utilities, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, and finally the Legislature all had responsibility to foresee what could have happened and failed to take the necessary steps for the past ten years to address issues that each of them could have addressed,” Walker wrote.
Pressure for Walker to resign over the outages hit a new level earlier Monday when Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick became the most influential lawmaker yet to demand the resignations of Walker and Bill Magness, the CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, known as ERCOT.
Patrick, a Montgomery Republican who presides over the Texas Senate, said following a series of hearings last week, it is clear there were critical communication failures in the runup to the storm by Walker and Magness.
“The lack of adequate preparation by both the ERCOT CEO and the PUC chair before the storm, their failure to plan for the worst-case scenario and their failure to communicate in a timely manner dictates they are not the ones to oversee the reforms needed,” Patrick said in a statement released to the media on Monday morning.