Lone Star Current Interview â€“ DeAnn Walker
DeAnn Walker, Chair
Public Utility Commission
DeAnn Walker was appointed by Governor Abbott in September 2017 to serve as Chair of the Public Utility Commission until September 2021. Previously, she served as the Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Abbott on matters related to regulated industries. Chairman Walker began her career in the electric industry at the Commission in 1988 serving first as Associate General Counsel and, later, as an Administrative Law Judge. Before joining the Governor’s staff, she served as Associate General Counsel and Director of Regulatory Affairs at CenterPoint Energy. Chairman Walker is an ex-officio member of the Board of Directors of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the Texas Reliability Entity. She is a member of the Regional State Committee for the Southwest Power Pool, and she serves as the State Liaison Officer to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the Governor. Chairman Walker received her undergraduate degree in accounting from Southern Methodist University and her Juris Doctor from South Texas College of Law.
The Lone Star Current recently had the opportunity to interview DeAnn Walker, who graciously responded to our questions. We appreciate her willingness to take the time to share her unique perspective with our readers.
Lone Star Current: What do you believe are the most important aspects of your position as Chairman at the PUC?
Walker: Given the volume and complexity of issues we address, it might surprise people to know I not only insist on reading all of the documents filed on an issue, I also seek out other relevant information. These issues and the people they affect deserve a great amount of study and thought, so I spend the time and effort necessary to make the best decision that I can. I also want the employees of the Commission to know they are valued and heard. I sincerely appreciate the work they perform every day for the Commission and the people of Texas as part of a truly remarkable team.
Lone Star Current: What do you view as the biggest challenges facing the PUC over the next few years?
Walker: Over the next few years, the biggest challenge is maintaining resource adequacy for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (“ERCOT”) electric market. Our state has not seen reserve margins this slim in many years. However, I am convinced the ERCOT market is the right approach to managing our grid and that the Texas economy will continue to flourish as a result. I believe all market participants will continue working together to keep the lights on and ensure that Texas continues to be the best State in which to live and do business. It will require a team effort, and I am confident that all involved will rise to the occasion. The Commission is also working to fully address the unique demands of the water industry. While the initial transfer of the water responsibilities from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to the Commission is complete, we are still pursuing complete integration of the issues. Texans deserve transparency and efficiency when it comes to processes for the water companies and their customers. Finding the resources to effectively address these issues is a challenge, but one that I intend to accomplish.
Lone Star Current: What issues have been most interesting that you have dealt with during your time at the PUC?
Walker: I have yet to encounter a dull moment at the Commission. Each and every open meeting brings a new set of issues that are both interesting and challenging. It has been a privilege to be involved in decisions on the following issues: transfer of distribution customers and facilities from Sharyland Utilities to Oncor; the interpretation of new legislation related to network nodes to encourage the deployment of 5G technology; the sale of Oncor to Sempra to end a lengthy bankruptcy; maintaining the Commission’s jurisdiction over ERCOT; and the integration of Lubbock Power and Light into ERCOT.
Lone Star Current: What facet of your job do you enjoy most?
Walker: I truly love my job, from the simplest details to the biggest decisions. Even on the hardest day, I enjoy the challenges that I face and the people who face them with me. I am humbled and honored by the opportunity to serve the great state of Texas in this position.
Lone Star Current: Tell us something most people would be surprised to know about you.
Walker: I attend 6:30 AM Mass every day.
Lone Star Current: If you weren’t serving in your current position, and it was possible to pursue any trade or profession, what would it be?
Walker: At this point in my career and life, I cannot imagine myself in any other role. I have worked my entire career for an opportunity to serve in this position. I am blessed and honored that Governor Abbott has entrusted to me such tremendous privilege and responsibility.