In a letter dated March 12th, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asked Gov. Abbott to replace his appointee at the Public Utility Commission of Texas Arthur D’Andrea following the PUC’s refusal to reverse a $16 billion overcharge during the winter storm.
The governor on Friday responded in kind saying he agrees “with the position of the PUC Chair” and refused to take action saying that the “governor does not have the independent authority” to remove D’Andrea.
The exchange comes after Patrick questioned Arthur D’Andrea, who is the only remaining commissioner of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, during a senate hearing on Thursday.
Patrick pushed D’Andrea to talk about a recent phone call they had where Patrick asked him to reduce the overcharge of $16 billion being imposed on the people of Texas during last month’s power outages.
“You said you agreed with my view that we needed to correct this,” Patrick said.
“Sir, there’s no way I agreed with you that we need to correct this,” D’Andrea answered back. “There’s no way I would have done that. This whole thing is because I don’t agree with you…it would be very easy if I agreed with you. I don’t. I’m sorry.”
D’Andrea, who was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott, tried to explain himself by stating that the PUC has no legal faculty to retroactively change the market price for power during the time of the winter storm. Doing so would be an illegal action.
“Even if the governor of the state of Texas told you to correct this error and this mistake, or respond to unusual circumstances, are you saying that you would not obey that?” Patrick asked him.
“…I think it’s illegal,” D’Andrea said, “…and his first thing he told me when I came to work for him is, ‘We are not doing anything illegal.’”
While Patrick is claiming to be the defender of the people by calling for a reversal of overcharges, this is the same lieutenant governor who went on national television to say he was ready to sacrifice lives for the economy last year. If Patrick was okay with the market killing grandparents during the pandemic, why would the winter storm be any different?