Could Be A Setback For Solar in Texas
As the legislature heats up and debate rises about what Texas should do about a developing energy crunch, Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) Commissioner Rolando Pablos announced his resignation today.
At a commission meeting this morning, Pablos said that he had submitted his resignation this morning to Governor Rick Perry. Chair Donna Nelson then moved the commission into a planned closed session, noting to Pablos, “You kinda threw me with that.”
In a statement, Pablos did not offer a reason for his resignation, saying instead that “it has been a privilege and honor to serve the people of the Great State of Texas” and that “ensuring that Texas has a reliable supply of electricity has been a top priority for me.” He also noted that “ensuring universal access to telecommunication services on a state-wide basis has also been an important component of my work at the PUCT.”
Pablos’ resignation could be seen as a setback for advocates hoping to get more solar power on the Texas grid. He was a vocal figure on the commission for increased solar and renewable energy, telling StateImpact Texas in an October 2012 interview that “it’s important that we help the renewable industry with its research and development efforts. As prices drop, [renewable energy] becomes more competitive.”
Pablos said at the time that the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission line projects, a $7 billion, ratepayer-funded program to bring wind energy from the panhandle to cities in Central and North Texas, could pave the way for more solar. “The most important project is to make sure that we keep [renewables] at the table with the CREZ line system,” Pablos said. The large, flat lands of the Panhandle are where most of Texas’ wind power is located, and Pablos said that made them good candidates for large-scale solar projects as well.
But a recent move to get the commission to require more solar in the state’s energy mix failed. Commission Chair Nelson has criticized the incentives for renewable energy advocated by solar and environmental groups. She blames them for Texas’ strained grid. Pablos had said that he looked forward to having the legislature deal with the issue of solar targets and incentives in Texas this session.
Pablos has served on the commission for only a short time, a little more than a year, and was its newest member. He was appointed to the commission by Perry in September 2011, with a term that was due to expire this September. He hasn’t said what he’s going to do next.
His resignation will take effect on March 1, meaning he will be present at one more meeting of the commission on that day. “We’ll save all of our flowery comments til then,” Nelson quipped after his announcement today. His successor will be chosen by the Governor.
You can read his full statement of resignation here.