Texas utility commissioner goes gas-electric


One man’s car buying decision isn’t usually worth writing home about, but the Texas Public Utility Commission thought a recent purchase by Chairman Barry Smitherman was worth waving a flag over.

Smitherman picked up his new Chevy Volt from Norman Frede Chevrolet in Houston this week, and the PUC was sure to let us know about it via a press release.

Smitherman has touted electric vehicles in the past and their compatibility with developments in Texas’ largely independent power grid.

Construction is underway on high voltage power lines to bring wind energy from rural West Texas to the state’s areas of heavy demand — meaning that wind power could help recharge cars plugged in to home units at night, when wind power is at its peak, for example.

Smitherman, who has Houston roots but now lives in Austin, told the Dallas Morning News he is planning to get a fast charger installed in his garage. He also noted he didn’t get any “State Regulator Discount.”

Naturally, the president of Plug-In Texas, Russ Keene, thought Smitherman’s purchase was a mighty fine move.

Plug-In Texas respects Chairman Smitherman’s long-demonstrated leadership for Electric Vehicles and for literally putting his money where his mouth is with his purchase of the Chevrolet Volt,” Keene said. “As the state’s chief electric regulator, Plug-In Texas appreciates Chairman Smitherman’s personal commitment to the new generation of plug-in hybrid vehicles.”

Categories: General
Tom Fowler

7 Responses

  1. ReaderX says:

    It’s great to see a PUC leader in Texas actually grab the bull by the horns and put his money into an electric vehicle. The Chevy Volt hybrid can run off more eco-friendly electricity for the majority of trips around town and yet gives him extended range for long trips between cities, when needed. It’s far superior over the typical all-petrol gas guzzler driven by a number of other public leaders, so kudos to Smitherman for demonstrating we can change.

    We need more leaders walking the walk instead of talking the talk. Great stuff; we can’t allow “perfect” to be the enemy of progress any more than we can continue to wallow in oil. Every action by a notable figure is tangible evidence that America CAN muster the will to improve itself. Awesome!

  2. JeffU says:


    At 3000 miles I have used just 10 gallons of gas in my Volt.

    I couldn’t be happier with this amazing fast and fun to drive technology. It’s a high-priced luxury pack car for sure. But very cheap to run.
    The gas money per month I have saved in those almost pollution free miles pays for half of my $383 lease payment.

    Nothing speaks louder than leaving a gas-guzzling V8 in my dust! Electric drive is so much fun. Nice to see Texas set an example!

  3. David says:

    And in other news, the president of Walmart went shopping at Walmart. He said he enjoyed his experience at Walmart.

  4. Energy Moron says:

    Howdy Neighbor:

    Did a little bit more research on this subject and indeed the PUC chairman is one of the folks trying to kill solar in Texas with the insane interpretation of “net” in US and Texas law as being over a 5 minute period.


    Since it is clear he has already acted to try to kill solar it is perfectly correct to call this a mercury pollution mobile in his case.

    In California, at least, these things do make environmental sense. But in Texas owing to the PUC interpretations of what normally would be common sense laws they are…

    Mercury Pollution Mobiles

  5. Energy Moron says:

    Howdy Neighbor:

    I have two gas electric cars also but rather than using things like coal to generate the electricity wasted motion otherwise going into useless heat is used to generate the electricity. And one actually generates less CO2 than the Volt.

    By buying one of these things is he making a statement that he wants to see more coal mercury pollution in Texas?

  6. DucMan says:

    He might not have got a “State Regulator Discount” but I bet he didn’t get gouged by the dealer and have to to over retail like most Volt buyers.

  7. meetwoodflac says:

    Surely this man’s press agent could have come up with a cheaper and smarter way to get his name in print. I suggest contacting SJL’s media network.
    This does not make him look like a very intelligent person.