After receiving a vote of more than two-thirds from all members elected to each house and consequently signed by Governor Greg Abbott, SB 2154 relating to the membership of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, has taken effect immediately.
Previously composed of three commissioners, the PUC will now be integrated by five commissioners appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate.
As the Public Utility Commission oversees ERCOT, this new move gives Governor Abbott political control over the power grid.
According to KHOU, politicians previously have not had such involvement in choosing the ERCOT board, and the changes to its governance capture what lawmakers have tried to do in recent weeks: Replace experts on the ERCOT board with political appointees — a change energy experts said would do little to improve the power grid.
Before the amendments, a commissioner had to be well informed and qualified in the field of public utilities and utility regulation in order to be eligible for appointment. Now, only 2 out of the 5 commissioners are required to be qualified.
“I am pretty upset by this massive change,” said Cyrus Reed, president of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club “This should be debated in public not snuck in a bill in the dead of night!”