PUC Plays Musical Chairs

Smitherman to head up state-wide electricity regulators.

The Public Utility Commission has little effect on most Austin Energy-utilizing readers of this blog. But the state body that regulates non-municipality electric and telecommunications providers, has just had a significant staffing shift on its three-seat ruling board.

At his own request, current chair Paul Hudson has stood down, and has been replaced as presiding officer by fellow commissioner Barry Smitherman. While Hudson will stay on the commission as an ordinary member, this still sends a message. Hudson oversaw the transition to deregulation of the electric market that took place in most of the state last year: the shift had been sold as bringing price cuts that have since failed to materialize. As chair, he was the sole voice that spoke up for preventative regulation, to prevent price gouging or another Enron. Former Harris County ssistant district attorney Smitherman has instead always supported punitive regulation, and said publicly that he believed the first choice should always be to let the market play itself out.

While Hudson rarely out-voted Smitherman and the equally anti-interventionist third commissioner Julie Parsley, his position of chair meant his concerns were at least given some weight. Market watchers and consumer advocates will probably be watching future PUC adjudications to see how the switch of seats shifts the situation.

More State Government
Straus' Budget Stretch
Straus' Budget Stretch
Committee member casts doubt on speaker's deficit proposals

Richard Whittaker, May 12, 2010

Keel Repeat
Keel Repeat
Former state rep to head up Texas Facilities Commission

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 17, 2009

More by Richard Whittaker
Owen Egerton Gets Spooked Writing <i>The Axe Murders of Villisca</i>
Owen Egerton Gets Spooked Writing The Axe Murders of Villisca
Austin author on his new haunted house movie

Jan. 20, 2017

American Genre Film Archive Expands
American Genre Film Archive Expands
Local film preservationists add Severin, Arrow, Vinegar Syndrome

Jan. 18, 2017


State Government, Public Utility Commission, Barry Smitherman

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)