Texas names third utility commissioner as power woes loom

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 21, 2013 12:57 PM

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Texas Governor Rick Perry on Wednesday named Brandy Marty, his former chief of staff, to a seat on the Texas Public Utility Commission, a panel currently divided over how to deal with a looming power scarcity problem.

Electric demand in Texas is growing faster than generation is being built, shrinking the state's reserve margin and increasing the likelihood of rolling outages in future years, the grid operator has warned.

Marty will replace commissioner Rolando Pablos who resigned March 1, six months before his term ended. The board was left with only two commissioners after Pablos' departure.

Marty, who has worked in the governor's office since 2007, was named Perry's chief of staff in March. Previously, she was deputy chief of staff and director of the budget, planning and policy division.

"Brandy is a passionate public servant with a deep knowledge of state government and the issues critical to Texas' continued success," Gov. Perry said in a statement. "Her experience and skills will be a major asset to the PUC as they continue their important work for our state."

Marty will help make decisions likely to affect the price Texans pay for electricity for years to come.

In the past year, the PUC has implemented a number of changes to the $29 billion wholesale market. Some generators and power-plant developers say more change is needed to obtain financing needed to build new plants.

The current commissioners have different ideas on how to attract new generation to the state without a drastic market redesign and a dramatic jump in costs for wholesale power in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state's primary grid.

(Reporting by Eileen O'Grady in Houston; Editing by Terry Wade and Andrew Hay)