Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Open Records Division has issued several Public Information Act (PIA) rulings to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) regarding the release of information sought in connection with Winter Storm Uri. In these decision requests the PUC, ERCOT, and interested third parties argued that some of the requested information was exempted from disclosure under certain PIA provisions. The Open Records Division ruled that PUC must release the information to the extent the PIA required it to do so – including information that ERCOT had sought to withhold.
Although these rulings confirm the PUC is subject to the PIA, the Open Records Division concluded in a separate ruling that the appropriate process to seek records directly from ERCOT is determined by PUC’s public access rules, which fall outside of the PIA. The PUC has complete authority over ERCOT, and ERCOT is subject to its own set of information disclosure procedures set out by the PUC. But if the PUC maintains responsive information from ERCOT that the PUC was required to disclose under the PIA, then the PUC must also provide that information to requestors.
In February, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued Civil Investigative Demands to ERCOT and other power companies regarding power outages, emergency plans, energy pricing, and more related to Winter Storm Uri.
You can review the Open Records Letter Rulings here.