Commissioner Rookie of the Year

On November 29, this column listed the twenty-three men and thirteen women who started their careers in the ‘major league’ of utility regulation during the 2017 season. Per NARUC’s latest membership directory.

These thirty-six, this year’s rookie class, joined thirty state commissions. Two joined the Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland and New York commissions.

They’re almost one in five of all state commissioners. And they’re already playing a big role. Five chair their commissions, in Colorado, Indiana, New York, Texas and Vermont. And the other thirty-one are surely impacting the league as well.

Who did we name as the 2017 Rookie of the Year? The commissioner who has distinguished herself or himself the most – in their first months – with their hard work and intellectual leadership?

You all sent in particularly compelling nominations for these five: Colorado PUC Chair Jeffrey Ackerman, Florida PSC Commissioner Donald Polmann, Kentucky PSC Commissioner Talina Mathews, Illinois CC Commissioner Sadzi Martha Oliva, and Texas PUC Chair DeAnn Walker.

About Chair Ackerman, one of you wrote, after summarizing ten challenges faced by the Colorado PUC this past year: “Through it all, the Chairman has kept his cool, his sense of humor, and his hair.”

About Commissioner Polmann, one of you wrote: “His deliberate inquiry and analysis leaves few stones unturned, causing the Commission to carefully consider all decisions… I believe his leadership encourages staff to perform at their highest level as well.”

About Commissioner Mathews, one of you wrote: “[She] was previously the Kentucky PSC’s Executive Director, and in that role, she led by example and succeeded in revamping the procedures and processes of the Commission to where it now functions more efficiently and effortlessly than it has for many, many years… Commissioner Mathews brings a wealth of knowledge and experience into her position that is not commonly found in a commissioner new to the bench …”

About Commissioner Oliva, one of you wrote: “The first Latina Commissioner in ICC history, and only one of five Hispanic Commissioners in the nation, … Commissioner Oliva’s unique background and her ability to break down barriers and complex issues sets her apart …”

About Chair Walker, one of you wrote: “My vote is … because she is the only female elected Chair this year.”

But we were particularly persuaded by one of you who suggested that all thirty-six deserved recognition and our appreciation. Their point was, state commissioners are the leaders of our utility regulation system that has succeeded so well in making utility service reliable, affordable and safe.

We all play a part: utilities, commission staff, consumer advocates, etc. But commissioners – from the newest rookie to the most seasoned veteran – make the Insull system effective even in these times of unprecedented change.

So, while we hail Chairs Ackerman and Walker, and Commissioners Polmann, Mathews and Oliva, we salute all the rookie commissioners. Here again is the impressive class of 2017:

  • Boyd Dunn and Justin Olson, Arizona Corporation Commission
  • Martha Guzman Aceves and Clifford Rechtscaffen, California Public Utilities Commission
  • Chair Jeffrey Ackermann and Wendy Moser of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission
  • Gary Clark and Donald Polmann, Florida Public Service Commission
  • Jay Griffin, Hawaii Public Utilities Commission
  • Sadzi Martha Oliva, Illinois Commerce Commission
  • Chair James Atterholt, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission
  • Richard Lozier, Iowa Utilities Board
  • Talina Mathews, Kentucky Public Service Commission
  • Craig Greene, Louisiana Public Service Commission
  • Mindy Herman and Odogwu Obi Linton, Maryland Public Service Commission
  • Cecile Fraser, Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities
  • Katie Sieben, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
  • Tony O’Donnell, Montana Public Service Commission
  • Mary Ridder, Nebraska Public Service Commission
  • Bruce Breslow, Nevada Public Utilities Commission
  • Michael Giaimo, New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission
  • Cynthia Hall, New Mexico Public Regulation Commission
  • Chair John Rhodes and James Alesi, New York Public Service Commission
  • Daniel Clodfelter, North Carolina Utilities Commission
  • Brian Kroshus, North Dakota Public Service Commission
  • Daniel Conway, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio
  • Megan Decker, Oregon Public Utility Commission
  • Abigail Anthony, Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission
  • Keith Jordan, Tennessee Public Utility Commission
  • Chair DeAnn Walker, Public Utility Commission of Texas
  • Chair Anthony Roisman, Vermont Public Utility Commission
  • Jay Balasbas, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission
  • Renee Larrick, Public Service Commission of West Virginia
  • Lon Roberts, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

Is your organization impacting the debate as a member of the PUF community? Nearly two hundred utilities, commissions, consumer advocates, associations, agencies, professional firms and vendors are members. How about yours?

Steve Mitnick, Editor-in-Chief, Public Utilities Fortnightly
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