- Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has appointed key adviser DeAnn Walker to lead the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) for a term set to expire Sept. 1, 2021, according to an announcement last week.
- Walker currently serves as a senior policy advisor to Abbott relating to policy matters on regulated industries. Prior to her current position, she was formerly employed by CenterPoint Energy.
- Walker joins the commission as regulators prepare to again consider a proposal to acquire the state's largest utility out of its parent company's bankruptcy. Sempra Energy has made a $9.45 billion offer for Energy Future Holdings, the primary owner of Oncor Electric.
Walker comes to the PUCT amidst the ongoing saga of Oncor's bid to find a new owner. Previous proposals have been nixed by the commission.
Walker, who lives in Austin, is now a senior policy advisor to Abbott relating to policy matters on regulated industries. She previously served as the director of regulatory affairs and as an associate general counsel for CenterPoint Energy, working there for 15 years.
Walker is a member of the State Bar of Texas. She joins two other commissioners on the PUC: Kenneth Anderson, Jr. and Brandy Marty Marquez. Abbott has selected Walker to serve as the commission's chair.
Sempra's bid for Energy Future Holdings was recently approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, and the next step involves a filing with the PUCT. Regulators have held fast to commitments to insulate Oncor customers from possible impacts of a new owner.
NextEra Energy made three attempts to convince the PUCT about a purchase of Oncor, but ultimately failed because the company would not back down from a proposal to rework Oncor's ringfencing provisions to give it access to dividends from the regulated utility. Before that, Hunt Consolidated had proposed to spin Oncor into a Real Estate Investment Trust but was unable to convince regulators it would benefit consumers.