ERWIN, ALAN RUSSELL (1944 ~ ). Alan Erwin was born September 4, 1944, in Greenville, Hunt County, Texas, to Eugene Kinsey Erwin and Frances Fletcher Erwin. Erwin earned a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Texas at Austin.
During the Vietnam War, Erwin served in the United States Navy from 1967 to 1971. After commissioning at the Navy’s Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I., he was assigned as a communications officer in the USS Lexington for two years. As a communications officer, Erwin communicated with other naval vessels, shore command, and air squadrons. In addition, he also served as public affairs officer for the ship, a division which issued the ship’s daily newspaper. In 1969, Erwin received orders to Vietnam, where he served as an advisor to the Vietnamese Navy’s Swift Boat division near and around the offshore and inshore waters in the area of Nha Trang, South Vietnam.
Swift Boats were primarily used in "Operation Market Time" from 1965-1972. "Operation Market Time" was a joint effort between the United States Navy and the South Vietnamese Navy to prevent the flow of supplies and munitions from North Vietnam into South Vietnam by controlling the waterways in South Vietnam. His four-year commitment to the Navy ended in 1970.
Following Erwin's service in the Navy, he became the chief of staff for Congressman Bob Casey from Houston in his Washington, D.C. office. 1n 1972, Governor Dolph Briscoe appointed Erwin to the Office of State-Federal Relations in D.C., which was established in 1965 by then-Gov. John Connally to represent the interests of the State of Texas before the U.S. Congress and the White House in Washington D.C. He also served as an advisor and speech writer to Gov. Briscoe, travelling with him to national governor’s conferences and meetings.
The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) was created by the Texas Legislature in 1975 to "represent and protect the public's interest in regard to public utility rates, operations, and services." On September 2, 1975, Erwin joined Garrett Morris and George Cowden as Gov. Briscoe’s first appointed commissioners of the newly formed PUC. By 1979, the PUC had established the procedural and substantive rules that withstood challenges before the Texas Supreme Court and had decided many controversial rate cases. Erwin’s term expired in 1979, when he left to enter the private sector.
Erwin was named by Hill and Knowlton Public Relations, headquartered in New York City, as a senior vice president and manager of the company’s Houston office. In that assignment, Erwin’s clients included Dow Chemical, Texaco, Exxon, Proctor and Gamble, Kerr-McGee, Lincoln Properties, Hilton Hotels, Hyatt Corporation and Hallmark Corporation. To assure no conflict of interest with his prior service at the PUC, Erwin did not seek or accept representation of any companies under jurisdiction of the Texas PUC.
After a 1982 political campaign for the Texas Governor’s Mansion in which utility rates were a major issue, Erwin’s personal friend, newly-elected Governor Mark White, re-appointed Erwin to the PUC in 1983, asking him publically to implement changes to the rules of the Commission to make its operations more public. The Texas Senate confirmed Erwin to the PUC unanimously. During his two year term as chairman, the PUC's responsibilities increased from its original functions to include audits, energy studies, more open hearings held in utility service areas, new facility approval, and other utility related issues. Erwin also chaired the PUCV during the federally-mandated break-up of AT&T. When his term at the PUC ended in 1985, Erwin worked briefly for Hill and Knowlton before establishing his own consulting firm, Erwin & Associates.
Currently, Mr. Erwin is president of Erwin & Associates, a public relations and public affairs firm headquartered in Austin. He is also a novelist – one of his novels, “The Power Exchange,” is under contract to HBO as a possible mini-series. He has been married since 1967 to Gay Taylor Erwin, now a senior vice president of Strategic Partnerships, an Austin-based consulting firm helping the private sector understand and do business with all levels of government. The Erwin’s have three sons, a daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren. They are members of The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Austin. Throughout their careers, the Erwin’s have been involved in numerous Austin charitable and civic activities and organizations.
Information taken from The Handbook of Texas, "Public Utility Commission of Texas" by Tracy Lynn Greenlee; www.swiftboats.net; the Associated Press and biographical information provided by Alan Erwin.