2015 Regulators Forum


State Utility Commissioners in Their Own Words

Fortnightly Magazine - November 2015

Perhaps the biggest issue that state utility regulators are facing is complying with the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan. It's no secret that the states with more sustainable fuel forms will have an easier time fulfilling their requirements, which would lead to a 32 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. In this space, we've spoken to Oregon's Susan Ackerman and South Dakota's Chris Nelson. Both states are flush with green energies but each still has challenges. In South Dakota's case, coal remains big there.

And then we've chosen to have two commissioners file unrelated stories but nonetheless, relevant ones. One is from Tim Echols of Georgia on how commissioners can use social media and the other is from Paul Roberti of Rhode Island, on the natural gas pipeline explosion in East Harlem a few years ago.

We think each has something valuable to say.

Oregon - Situated 'Quite Well'

Susan Ackerman, chair, Oregon PUC: States that have coal-dependent economies will likely have more difficulty complying with the Clean Power Plan than states like Oregon. There will be rate impacts to be sure. The trick will be compliance at the most reasonable cost that that can be assured. Read more>

South Dakota - A 'Unique' Fuel Mix

Chris Nelson, vice-chairman, South Dakota Pub. Utils. Comm'n: Seventy-three percent of our generation is carbon-free, yet the EPA's 111(d) rules require a 48 percent reduction in our CO2 emission rate. That steep reduction will be very difficult to achieve and will be costly for our electric customers. The commission's chief concern is keeping a lid on consumer prices, especially given the pressure exerted by EPA. Read more>

Georgia - On Becoming a Social Media Junkie

Tim Echols, Georgia PSC: Being in the "energy" business as a commissioner, staff, lobbyist or industry leader is hard enough without social media, right? When you add Twitter and Facebook to the mix, it is enough to drive one crazy. Who needs it? Well, we all do, really. Read more>

Rhode Island - The Challenge of an Aging Infrastructure

Paul J. Roberti, Rhode Island PUC: Clearly, one of the most significant issues we face today is aging infrastructure. It's akin to a marathon - a race we absolutely have to finish. Since 1990 we've replaced more than 65,000 miles of cast iron and bare steel pipe, but we still have a long way to go. Read more>