The Public Utility Commission is once again fully staffed following Texas Governor Rick Perry’s appointment of Brandy Marty, a former Perry staffer, to fill a vacant seat. The three-member panel has been shorthanded since the resignation of Rolando Pablos in March of this year.
Marty has a law degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas in Austin. She has worked in the Governor’s Office since 2007 and in March of 2013 she was named a Perry’s Chief of Staff. Interestingly, this was on the same day as Pablos’ resignation from the PUC.
Marty comes in at a critical time for the Texas electricity market. As the state struggles to find ways to address looming power shortages, the PUC has some critical decisions to make about the structure and polices of the Texas market going forward.
One of the most critical issues on the table is the proposal to convert Texas from a demand only model to a capacity market. Under a capacity market, producers would be paid simply for building out additional capacity and having it available for use by the grid. Under the current structure, producers are paid only when the electricity they produce is used. Donna Nelson, the Chair of the Commission seems to open to the idea of a Capacity Market. Marty could be the swing vote in favor or against a capacity market.
The PUC has recently taken other steps in the effort to incentivize new production of energy capacity in the state. This includes a substantial increase in the state’s cap on the wholesale price of electricity that producers are able to charge during times of peak demand.