The Back MicThe Back Mic: ERCOT and the PUC Point Fingers, List of Lawmakers Investigating Blackouts Compiled, Legislators’ Floor Time Compared

This week — a look at the Texas legislature in its first week in session since the blackouts.
February 26, 2021
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ERCOT and PUC Officials Contradict One Another

In front of the Senate Business & Commerce Committee, Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chair DeAnn Walker and Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) both attempted to shift the blame to one another.

Asked by Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) about the PUC’s relation to ERCOT, Magness stated, “We’re accountable to the PUC for everything. They oversee everything we do.”

When asked about Magness’ statement, Walker responded, “Listening to Mr. Magness you would think we exercise a great deal of authority. To say we have the amount of power that was implied is just wrong.”

The Texan Tumbler

ERCOT is overseen by the PUC and its board members are appointed by the three PUC commissioners. Those commissioners are appointed by the governor, and each of the current members was appointed by sitting Governor Greg Abbott.

Committee Members Investigating Blackouts

Below is a list of each member of the legislature questioning the energy industry stakeholders during the committee hearings.

Senate Business & Commerce Committee

  • Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) — Chair
  • Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) — Vice-Chair
  • Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels)
  • Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe)
  • Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas)
  • José Menéndez (D-San Antonio)
  • Angela Paxton (R-McKinney)
  • Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown)
  • John Whitmire (D-Houston)

House Energy Resources Committee

  • Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) — Chair
  • Abel Herrero (D-Robstown) — Vice Chair
  • Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas)
  • Tom Craddick (R-Midland)
  • Drew Darby (R-San Angelo)
  • Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie)
  • Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth)
  • Tracy King (D-Batesville)
  • Ben Leman (R-Anderson)
  • Oscar Longoria (D-Mission)
  • Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City)

House State Affairs Committee

  • Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) — Chair
  • Ana Hernandez (D-Houston) — Vice Chair
  • Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont)
  • Sam Harless (R-Spring)
  • Donna Howard (D-Austin)
  • Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi)
  • Phil King (R-Weatherford)
  • Eddie Lucio, III (D-Brownsville)
  • Will Metcalf (R-Conroe)
  • Richard Peña Raymond (D-Laredo)
  • Matt Shaheen (R-Plano)
  • Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville)
  • John Smithee (R-Amarillo)

Texas Legislature has Convened Far Less this Session than in Previous Years

Due largely to COVID-19 precautions, the Texas legislature has spent far less time on the floor this session than past ones.

According to Texas Scorecard’s Jeramy Kitchen who ran the numbers, from January 12 through February 23 the House and Senate have convened for a combined 14 hours.

A contributor is the ritualistic nature of resolutions and honors that are usually prevalent during the first period of the session have not occurred like they have in the past. Often, groups of Texans are invited to the capitol and honored by their respective representative during the first 60 days of the legislative session, when most other business is constitutionally restricted.

At this point during the 2019 session, the two chambers had convened collectively for 53 hours.

This session, the House has assembled nine times while the Senate has convened five times.

Each week since opening day, the two bodies have approved adjournment resolutions to bypass the three-day recess limit.

Once the 60th day of session comes, more regular business on the House and Senate floors will become the norm.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.