The top utilities regulator in Texas has become the highest-ranking official to resign over the blackouts that left millions of Texans without power amid freezing temperatures last month. The Houston Chronicle reports that Public Utility Commission Chairwoman DeAnn Walker sounded "indignant" in her resignation letter, saying she had "worked endless hours over the past two and a half weeks to return electric power to the grid" and blaming others, including energy companies and lawmakers, for failing to address the issues that led to the failure. She also blamed the blackouts on ERCOT, although the commission she led has oversight over the grid manager, the AP reports.
During hearings before legislative panels last week, Walker did a U-turn after initially claiming the commission had little control over ERCOT, and was criticized for a lack of communication about the winter storm that led to the power failures. Lawmakers asked Walker, who was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott, why she hadn't raised concerns about the possibility of outages much sooner, the Texas Tribune reports. When asked about winter weatherization for power plants, she said: "It costs a lot of money." Five ERCOT board members resigned last week. The AP reports that on Monday, Brazos Electric Power—the biggest and oldest power cooperative in Texas—said it was filing for bankruptcy protection because it was not willing to pass excessively high invoices from ERCOT along to its customers.
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