AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Public Utilities Commission of Texas Chair DeAnn Walker resigned Monday, March 1, effectively immediately.
Calls for her resignation came during hearings last week, following the failure of Texas’ power grid during the winter storms which left about four million Texans without power for days during the coldest temperatures in decades.
In her resignation letter, Walker defended her actions and criticized others after widespread power outages last month that left millions in the dark, without heat and water.
She leaves after testifying before state lawmakers last week.
She said, “Despite the treatment I received from some legislators, I am proud that I spoke the truth… I believe others should come forward in dignity and courage and acknowledge how their actions or inaction contributed to the situation.”
“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,” said Gov. Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze in a statement.
Both Walker and ERCOT CEO Bill Magness have been sharply criticized by state lawmakers, but the Governor hasn’t blamed Walker publicly, only ERCOT and its CEO.
In his statement Monday, Lt. Governor Patrick suggested both lied to lawmakers saying, “Both the Chairman and CEO publicly testified they had informed state leadership, including me, about the seriousness of the winter storm. In fact, as they both admitted to me the day after the hearings, their testimony was not accurate.”
In response, ERCOT sent a statement saying it’s aware of the Lt. Governor’s request. “Given the recent resignations of several ERCOT board members… our Corporate Secretary will be working with the current, remaining members to consider this request.”
The PUC regulates ERCOT and the PUC’s Chair and the two other commissioners are selected by and answer to the Governor.
READ WALKER’S RESIGNATION LETTER HERE
State Representative Rafael Anchía, who along with seven of his colleagues, called on Commissioner Walker to resign last Friday, released the following statement on her resignation:
“The people of Texas deserved nothing less than Commissioner Walker’s immediate resignation following the complete failure by her agency and ERCOT, the Texas power grid operator that she neglected to regulate.
“The Public Utility Commission, led by Governor Abbott’s hand-picked appointees, was at best negligent in its oversight of ERCOT. It is their agency’s mission to protect Texans and ensure they have access to reliable electricity when they need it most, yet families were left out in the cold. We need bold action to prevent this catastrophe from ever happening again.
“Texans still await her apology.”
Governor Abbott has said he won’t let the legislature leave the Capitol until they make changes.
Lawmakers say the House and Senate are working to speed up the legislative process.
State Rep. Craig Goldman said, “This will not be a House bill or Senate Bill, this will be a combined response to what happened so that you’re exactly right. So we can move swiftly, on behalf of the people of Texas. Absolutely. So those talks are already ongoing.”
State Rep. Anchia told CBS 11, “We have four and a half million Texans without power and 14 million Texans without water. Everybody suffered and everybody’s demanding accountability. You’re going to get that by both chambers by working together this session.”
The legislative session ends Memorial Day weekend.