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Environment

There’s No One Left On Texas’ Public Utility Commission After Final Board Member Resigns At Gov. Greg Abbott's Request

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Public Utility Commission Chair Arthur D'Andrea, the only remaining member of the three-seat agency, is resigning from his post, Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday night.

Abbott said in a statement he asked for and accepted D'Andrea's resignation and plans to name "a replacement in the coming days who will have the responsibility of charting a new and fresh course for the agency."

D'Andrea's resignation will be effective immediately upon the appointment of a successor, according to a copy of D'Andrea's resignation letter that was obtained by The Texas Tribune.

The reason for D'Andrea's resignation was not immediately clear. It came hours after Texas Monthly reported that he told out-of-state investors on a call he would work to throw"the weight of the commission" behind stopping calls to reverse billions of dollars in charges for wholesale electricity. Prices for electricity skyrocketed during a massive winter storm in February that left millions of Texans without power for days.

According to a recording of the call obtained by Texas Monthly, D'Andrea at one point said he expected to remain the sole member of the commission for now, adding he did not think Abbott would want to appoint new commissioners during the legislative session since the Senate would have to confirm appointees.

"I went from being on a very hot seat to having one of the safest jobs in Texas," D'Andrea said during the call. "I think it's just going to be me for a while."

A spokesperson for the commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

D'Andrea has fielded criticism over the repricing debate at the Legislature — and was grilled by Lt. Gov Dan Patrick himself during a Senate hearing Thursday, a highly unusual move by the head of the Texas Senate.

The next day, a spokesperson for Abbott said the governor "absolutely" still remained confident in D'Andrea's ability to chair the commission. Hours later Friday, Patrick called on Abbott to "intercede" and replace D'Andrea, who previously worked as assistant general counsel to the governor.

"Texans deserve to have trust and confidence in the Public Utility Commission, and this action is one of many steps that will be taken to achieve that goal," Abbott said Tuesday night.

This is a developing story and will continue to be updated.