Paulina Collins is Legislative Liaison of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
Steve Mitnick is Editor-in-Chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly and President of Lines Up, Inc.
PUF: What is your role at the Maine PUC?
Paulina Collins: I'm the Commission's legislative liaison and one of its lawyers. I spend a lot of time at the Legislature.
The Commission has historically viewed its role as providing neutral information to assist legislators in making policy decisions. We almost always testify neither for nor against a particular piece of legislation for that reason.
As the implementing agency, we also need to make sure that we can implement the policy that the Legislature wants to enact. We often provide background on an issue in our testimony.
We may identify potential issues that the Legislature may want to think about. We also include impacts to ratepayers, whether rates are going to go up or down.
The Commission testifies on most bills that come before the Energy, Utilities and Technology (EUT) Committee that are within our area of jurisdiction. We're there several days a week and the Commission may testify on several bills on any given day.
The Committee usually starts meeting two days a week. It can turn into three days, and sometimes, on a very busy session, it can turn into four days. That's not all day, it's mainly the afternoons. So, it's running back and forth to the Legislature a lot.
PUF: Do you like doing that?