Who Will Be Your Next PUCO Commissioner?

Public Utilities Commission Opening

Hint: It probably won't be a consumer advocate.

CLICK HERE for the PUCO’s web page with a “download” button to view the applications for commissioner. Three of the nine applicants have worked for the utility industry.

CLICK HERE for the contact information to use for submitting comments to the state Nominating Council regarding the commissioner applicants. Send comments to Angela Hawkins at PUCNominatingCouncil@puco.ohio.gov to participate. In its Dec. 12, 2021 job ad, the Nominating Council wrote: “Interested persons may submit comments to the members of the Nominating Council regarding any of the applicants. Comments should be submitted to the Nominating Council coordinator.”

CLICK HERE for Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston’s letter to the Governor a year ago, asking for appointment of a consumer advocate to the PUCO. (A consumer advocate was not appointed.) A resolution by the OCC Governing Board, calling for reform of the PUCO commissioner selection process, is attached to OCC’s letter.

CLICK HERE for the United States/FirstEnergy Deferred Prosecution Agreement. On page 43 of the Agreement, text messages are quoted including one apparently about having a certain PUCO commissioner reappointed (“re-upped”) in 2020. The text message quote is “But I think [Public Official B] wants the incumbent D re-upped because he’s very cooperative with [Public Official B].” Also, note that FirstEnergy has been charged by the U.S. Attorney with a federal crime.

CLICK HERE for the Toledo Blade editorial calling for reform of the PUCO.

CLICK HERE for information about the Feb. 4, 2022 PUCO Nominating Council meeting. Business is expected to include election of a chairperson and nomination of four applicants for the Governor to appoint one as commissioner. Past practice has been that most of the meeting (the interviews) is conducted behind closed doors.PUCO

CLICK HERE for a list of the PUCO Nominating Council members. The chairperson of the Nominating Council, Mr. Mike Koren, is a former FirstEnergy lobbyist. 

CLICK HERE for the state lobbying report Mr. Koren filed to disclose working for FirstEnergy on House Bill 6.  The PUCO’s list of Nominating Council members does not contain their biographical information (despite the Council being part of state government).

CLICK HERE for the expired commissioner job ad by the PUCO Nominating Council, which also describes qualifications.

The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel has sought reforms of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Reforms should include the process for appointment of commissioners. 

Currently, two of the five PUCO commissioners have worked for the utility industry that the PUCO regulates. Until the resignation of former PUCO Chair Randazzo in 2020, three of the five PUCO commissioners had worked for the utility industry. OCC's view is that no former utility representatives should be appointed to the PUCO. It is time to appoint PUCO commissioners who have worked as consumer advocates. 

In a Jan. 19, 2022 news story, Gongwer News Service reported Governor DeWine as saying that he will not appoint someone who has "background or connections in the industry." CLICK HERE to read the Gongwer news story quoting the Governor.