The deregulation of Texas’ electric markets started well before Barry Smitherman joined the state’s Public Utility Commission in 2004, but the former Harris County prosecutor was in the thick of the toughest challenges of that transition.

From several instances of company-crippling energy price spikes to the battle over power lines to reach West Texas wind farms and the installation of millions of ‘smart meters,’ Smitherman has had a say on much of what makes up today’s Texas power grid.

Smitherman, the second-longest serving commissioner in the PUC’s history, stepped down from that role last month when Gov. Rick Perry appointed him to fill a spot on the Texas Rail Road Commission left vacant when Michael Williams announced plans to run for the U.S. Senate (and now for Congress).

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