Ann de Rouffignac
HOUSTON, Jan. 18, 2002 — The chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas reportedly resigned amid controversy over his past positions at Enron Corp. and political ties to Gov. Rick Perry.
Sources close to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas board of directors confirmed Mario Max Yzaguirre resigned as reported by a Dallas newspaper. The PUC press office did not return phone calls.
Perry named Yzaguirre to fill a vacancy left by Pat Wood who President George W. Bush named chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in May. Yzaguirre surfaced as a potential liability for Perry, who is running for reelection, after disclosures he received a $25,000 contribution from Enron CEO Kenneth Lay the day after he appointed Yzaguirre commission chairman. Perry has termed the timing “coincidental.”
Perry, who was Bush’s lieutenant governor, also came in for criticism for waiting until a legislative session ended to make the appointment, avoiding the confirmation process. Recently, attention has focused on Yzaguirre’s initial failure to disclose all his positions at Enron Corp. The only connection to Enron he originally acknowledged was being an officer of Enron’s operations in Mexico. He later confirmed holding other positions with Enron, which is at the heart of a rapidly evolving financial and political scandal.
Enron, which filed for bankruptcy protection Dec. 2, was at the forefront of pushing electricity deregulation legislation in Texas. The company, which had a large interest in trading and selling natural gas and electricity in the wholesale market in Texas and elsewhere, also participated in shaping the wholesale market protocols with ERCOT.
Presently, decisions are pending at the PUC that involve whether to allow Enron Energy Services, one of the units that filed for bankruptcy protection, to continue to operate and sell electricity in the newly deregulated Texas market.