Shelly Botkin enjoyed a relatively quiet debut on the Public Utility Commission of Texas last week, sitting through a 15-minute open meeting devoid of any major decisions.
Appointed to the three-person commission on June 11 by Gov. Greg Abbott and sworn in two days later, the former ERCOT communications and governmental relations director smiled often at friends in the audience and seconded motions for approval. (See ERCOT’s Botkin Named to Texas PUC.)
“With that, your first meeting is over,” PUC Chair DeAnn Walker said to Botkin as she adjourned the June 14 meeting to the room’s applause.
Walker Calls for Attention to Details During Summer
Walker opened the meeting with a plea for normalcy during the summer months, when demand will be high, ERCOT’s reserve margin low and energy prices potentially poised to spike.
Already, the market has seen the collapse of Breeze Energy on May 30, the first retail electric provider (REP) to go out of business since 2014. ERCOT staff told the Board of Directors June 12 that the retailer defaulted on its collateral obligations to the ISO.
Mark Ruane, ERCOT’s director of settlements, retail and credit, said that when Breeze “failed to cure that breach,” the ISO began a transition of its nearly 10,000 customers to their providers of last resort: other REPs.
“While I think it went smoothly, I think it could go smoother in the future,” Walker said, thanking Oncor for managing the transition. “They waived all the deposits. I think that was very helpful too.”
ERCOT is holding a workshop June 21 to discuss lessons learned from the Breeze transition.
“My focus is making sure consumers get to choose who they get to take service from and do it in a timely manner,” Walker said.
PUC to Intervene in FERC Dockets
Following its executive session, the PUC moved to intervene in three dockets currently before FERC:
- NextEra Energy Transmission’s request to buy a 30-mile transmission line in East Texas owned by Rayburn Country Electric Cooperative. NextEra plans to transfer functional control of the line to SPP (EC18-97).
- Entergy’s waiver request to allow its operating companies to reflect recent tax law changes in MISO’s formula rate templates (ER18-1721).
- MISO’s proposed Tariff modifications governing the treatment of generation retirements and suspensions (ER18-1636).
— Tom Kleckner