Detroit Edison Co. (DE) has received approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission for
10-year sole-supplier contracts for electric power and related services with Chrysler, Ford,...
new employers is that they're "experimenters," those first out of the gate, and as a result, are the ones always getting criticized. She too, seems to share their preference for the hot seat. After all, besides heading NARUC's intensive lobby effort and other programs, she'll also have to manage a budget of $2 million and a staff of 17.
"I look at New Hampshire and what they've done. And they're going to take a lot of heat for that," she says of commissioners' challenges. "I look at Pennsylvania. I look at California. They're not just talking the big issues. They're really getting down and dirty and doing it. Really doing it. And they don't have any precedents, other than their own knowledge base and their own experience."
As for herself, she admits she has a learning curve when it comes to issues outside of electricity. Issues related to water and telecommunications and, in some states, transportation and insurance.
"The issues are very similar. They're not exact, for sure. Do I worry? No, I don't worry. A good manager understands how to do what needs to be done. And I think that I have those skills. I will rely on the experts [at NARUC] when expert advice is needed."
She says her respect for commissioners stems from other reasons as well. "They're spread very thin. Not only do they have to understand all those industries, but they're dealing with shrinking state budgets, they're dealing with every single industry under their jurisdiction going through major life changes.
"As in human nature, you tend to, as a commissioner, focus in one or two areas and rely on your fellow commissioners to focus on the other areas. Just as you do in congressional committees and just as you do in trade associations."
Welsh says she hopes she can enhance NARUC's reputation. "I think Paul Rodgers left a huge legacy. ... Those are very big shoes to fill." t
Joseph F. Schuler Jr. is associate editor of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY.
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