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The Past, Present, and Future of the Texas Energy Market with Former PUC Chair Becky Klein

The Past, Present, and Future of the Texas Energy Market with Former PUC Chair Becky Klein

Former PUC Chair Becky Klein joined me to discuss the history of the Texas energy market, the central challenges facing the grid today and possible solutions, and the need to address energy insecurity

To understand what's happening, you have to know how you got there. You need a sense of the history. That's one of the reasons I've enjoyed interviewing past Commissioners and Chairs of the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC). At the Texas Power Podcast, I interviewed Pat Wood and Barry Smitherman, both former PUC Chairs. Here at Energy Capital, the very first episode I hosted Commissioner Will McAdams, who had just stepped down from the PUC a few weeks prior. These episodes remain incredibly valuable for anyone interested in Texas energy.

Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Becky Klein, who served as a Commissioner on the Public Utility Commission from 2001 to 2002 and as Chair from 2002 to 2004. Her tenure was pivotal as the restructuring of the Texas electricity market, initiated by the legislature in 1999, was being implemented. Becky played a critical role in this transformative period.

After leaving the PUC, she served as both Vice Chair and Chair of the Lower Colorado River Authority, which owns several gigawatts of power plants. She is also an active board member for various water utility and energy companies And if all that isn't enough, Becky founded and serves on the board of the Texas Energy Poverty Research Institute (TEPRI), an organization dedicated to reducing Texans’ energy burden and ensuring energy is accessible and affordable for all Texans.

There are few people better situated to help understand what's happening today, especially as we grapple with rising demand, a rapidly changing resource mix, evolving market design, technology breakthroughs, an affordability crisis, and much more. 


During the episode, Becky shared her past work on Texas energy and regulatory matters and her vision for the future of the Texas grid. We discussed her work with TEPRI and considered the challenges and opportunities in the energy transition to alleviate energy poverty. We also explored strategies for ensuring reliable electricity access, enhancing affordability, and the evolving role of oil and gas within the broader energy landscape.

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I look forward to hearing your thoughts; don’t hesitate to share them with me and fellow listeners in the comments. Thank you for listening and for being a subscriber! Transcript, show notes, and timestamps are below.



3:02 - Becky’s background

7:26 - How Texas’ market restructuring came to be 

8:49 - The central problems facing the Texas grid and the importance of first principles 

11:58 - What Becky believes are the principles guiding the ERCOT market today 

14:39 - Becky’s views on what caused Winter Storm Uri and how that shapes our energy market and grid goals

17:33 - What would are the most important things we can do to improve reliability and affordability

23:49 - The need for more clean dispatchable or clean firm resources, energy efficiency, and operational flexibility

26:48 - How can the energy transition benefit everyone not just some and the work of the Texas Energy and Poverty Institute (TEPRI)

37:17 - What are the metrics we should use to assess the impact of energy efficiency programs for low-income households; Energy Poverty Index

41:10 - Should Texas reinstate the System Benefit Fund?

45:48 - TEPRI’s new program with the Bransfield Community Development Corporation

48:00 - Current and expected trends in oil and gas during the energy transition


Show Notes

The Texas Energy and Poverty Research Institute (TEPRI)

2024 Community Voices in Energy Survey – Statewide Report from TEPRI

February 2023 Senate Business and Commerce Hearing featuring testimony from former PUC Chair Becky Klein. Her testimony begins at 7:51.

Burden of the global energy price crisis on households. Study published in Nature Energy.

EIA Energy Insecurity Data

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Energy Capital Podcast
The Energy Capital podcast focuses on Texas energy and power grid issues, featuring interviews with energy professionals, academics, policymakers, and advocates.