Brandy Marty was appointed commissioner in August by Gov. Rick Perry to the three-member Texas Public Utility Commission, which oversees power and telecommunications matters. She talked to FuelFix about her new role. Edited excepts follow.
FuelFix: As a former chief of staff for Gov. Rick Perry and an attorney, you have a wide range of career options. What made you interested in this particular job?
Marty: I have always been interested in energy policy. I read Daniel Yergin’s book “The Prize” in college. It focuses on the oil industry, but it talks about what a vital component energy has become very quickly in all of our lives, and how we rely on it so much, and how quickly that evolved. My background has been policy, and this is a really exciting policy area. Infrastructure is the bones of this state and our country. Electricity is the key component to all of that, so for me, it is an exciting and challenging area.
FuelFix: What areas do you intend to focus on at the commission?
Marty: I’m coming in at a time when the commission is going to have a series of discussions on resource adequacy, so that has been my focus. In my first month here, I have devoted all my energy on understanding the issues around resource adequacy, so that I can as quickly as possible come to a decision on how I think the state should move forward.
FuelFix: What has been confusing to you about resource adequacy?
Marty: I think the most challenging aspect of this is No. 1, understanding the problem and getting a clear understanding about what our state is going to look like in the decades ahead, because there is a whole lot of conflicting information out there. There are a whole lot of policy decisions that have to be made in addressing the answer and things you have to balance. I think the people of Texas expect to have reliable, affordable energy. When you keep that in mind, it hopefully will make the answers simpler.
We are having a public meeting on the 8th on this issue, and my fellow commissioners have already had several conversations. I am hopeful that what we talk about on the 8th will shed more light on this, and keeping those objectives in mind — reliable, affordable — that we are going to be able to come to the conclusions that do the right thing for the state.
FuelFix: How do you view the issues you are dealing with at the commission as fitting into the broader politics in Texas?
Marty: I’m sure they could play a whole lot of different ways. The bottom line is, our job is to make the policy choices to make sure people have reliable and affordable energy. I don’t know what that will look like politically, because that is not what I have to worry about here. I feel lucky that I have come from a background where I could learn about all those components, but I feel fortunate to be in a situation where my charge is to do the right thing.
FuelFix: What interests you most about energy?
Marty: All the new technology is fascinating. It’s amazing to think of what the possibilities are out there. It really is unbelievable to think that we over the last 100 years have started pulling things out of the ground and turn it into something where you can flip a switch and run a hospital. What people come up with is so inspiring — it is inspiring to think that every day people are born whose minds work in such a way, that a few years down the road, they will get to the bottom of creating new energy sources.
FuelFix: What is your biggest concern in your new position?
Marty: I want to make sure there is enough power for Texas. Texas is a unique market for electricity in the United States, and because of that, I think we have the best and brightest people running the grid. They give me a great deal of confidence, but what keeps me up at night is the recognition I need to make the right decisions to make sure there is enough power to make it work.
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