Steve Mitnick is President of Lines Up, Inc., Editor-in-Chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly, and author of “Lines Down: How We Pay, Use, Value Grid Electricity Amid the Storm.”
A couple of us from the PUF team headed to the airport, on a day in late April, boarded the quick flight to Milwaukee, then drove the rental car to Madison and stayed the night in one of the nice hotels there. Next morning, at the crack of dawn, we grabbed a quick bite at the hotel's breakfast buffet, and drove off to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin for a full day of interviews with the three Commissioners and a number of Staff. After taking a bunch of cool pics for the cover of the issue you're reading now and within this article, we retraced our steps through Milwaukee and from there back to Washington, D.C.
Ok, just kidding. We wish we could have actually gone to Madison in late April and enjoyed a day at the PSC with our Commissioner and Staff friends who toil there in the public interest. This dastardly virus thing, as you can imagine, prevented the trip.
But we did go to Madison anyway, albeit virtually. And we had nearly as enjoyable a time talking shop in a series of several conference calls over the course of two weeks with Chair Valcq, Commissioners Nowak and Huebner, and a ton of their dedicated Staff. They've certainly not taken a break from the job of utility regulation on behalf of the good people of Wisconsin following the principles of fair and balanced regulation while following the social distancing rules as well, innovating their processes along the way.
We did face one big challenge. How could we possibly take the PUF cover shot? Traditionally, the cover shot is all the Commissioners of a state standing in a scene like the public hearing room, or in front of the Commission's office building. That wasn't going to happen while we're all socially distanced.
Instead, PUF's artist drew the cover based on photos of the Commissioners. We hope you like the beautiful cover that resulted. And hope you find the following Day at the PSC interviews as engaging and informative as if the PUF team had been able this spring to sample some local cheeses and meet up with our friends in Madison.
Conversations for A Day at the Wisconsin PSC, Virtually:
- Chair Rebecca Cameron Valcq
- Chief of Staff Carrie Templeton
- Commissioner Ellen Nowak
- Executive Assistant Bob Seitz
- Commissioner Tyler Huebner
- Division administrator of energy regulation and analysis Martin Day
- Division administrator of digital access, consumer and environmental affairs Kristy Nieto
- Division administrator of water utility regulation and analysis Denise Schmidt
- Division administrator of business operations and office management Eric Esser
- State broadband director Jaron McCallum
- Digital access director Alyssa Kenney
- Broadband mapping coordinator Colter Sikora
- Water division public utility auditor, principal Kathy Butzlaff
- Water division public utility rate analyst, principal Alex Hanna
- Focus on Energy portfolios manager Jolene Sheil
- Focus on Energy performance manager Mitch Horrie
- IT product owner and program manager Alex Fortney