Second Texas utility commissioner exits amid power outage fallout By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A neighborhood experiences a power outage after winter weather caused electricity blackouts in San Marcos

HOUSTON (Reuters) – A second member of the regulator that oversees Texas’ utilities resigned on Monday in a continuation of the political fallout over a weather-driven crisis in the state’s power market.

Shelly Botkin resigned effective immediately, the Public Utility Commission of Texas said in a one sentence notice. Her departure came a week after PUC Chairman DeAnn Walker resigned amid criticism of the board’s handling of a deadly blackout during a mid-February freeze.

Electricity and prices surged as an arctic air mass brought subzero temperatures, killing dozens of people and leaving much of its power market in the throes of a deep financial crisis. One company filed for bankruptcy and a dozen face removal from the state’s grid for defaulting on power payments.

The state’s electric industry faces $47 billion in one-time costs after the commission and grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) raised prices to induce generators to add power.

The political firestorm over the outage worsened last week as the state’s independent market adviser said some charges were raised in error, and should be rolled back.

Botkin was appointed to the commission by Governor Greg Abbott in 2018. She had been the spokeswoman for ERCOT before joining the commission. Under state law, remaining commissioner Arthur D’Andrea can act on proposals before the PUC.

A PUC spokesman did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Botkin could not be reached for comment.

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