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.”