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July 6, 2010

     
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State Regulatory Relations


NARUC Water Committee Gains New Members

Commissioner Alaina Burtenshaw of Nevada and Commissioner Elizabeth Randall of New Jersey were recently appointed to NARUC’s Committee on Water.

Commissioner Burtenshaw was appointed to the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) by Governor Jim Gibbons on January 18, 2010.

Prior to her appointment to the PUCN, Commissioner Burtenshaw worked for the PUCN’s Regulatory Operations Staff for 17 years. As an assistant staff counsel and later the staff counsel, Commissioner Burtenshaw represented the Regulatory Operations Staff in hundreds of cases. These cases included every facet of the PUCN’s regulatory oversight. In particular, Commissioner Burtenshaw developed expertise in transportation, rural water companies and the energy industry. Before joining the PUCN, Commissioner Burtenshaw worked in private practice in Las Vegas from 1987 to 1992, where she focused on administrative law.

Commissioner Alaina Burtenshaw

Commissioner Burtenshaw received her bachelor of arts degree in history from Idaho State University and her juris doctorate degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is a licensed attorney in the state of Nevada.

Elizabeth (Lisa) Randall was appointed to the Board of Public Utilities as commissioner in May 2008. She briefly served as acting president of the board from January-February 2010.

Immediately prior to serving on the BPU, Commissioner Randall was a partner at the law firm of Randall & Randall, LLP in Westwood, N.J., where she also resides. In addition, she was a visiting associate faculty member of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University during the 2007–2008 academic year. Commissioner Randall also served on the board of directors of the Westwood Senior Housing Corporation and the New Jersey Women’s Political Caucus.

From 1982 to 1984, Commissioner Randall was assistant counsel to the governor and then deputy attorney general in the administration of Governor Thomas Kean. In 1985, she was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly, where she served until 1991.

In 1994, Commissioner Randall was appointed Commissioner of Banking and Insurance by Governor Christine Todd Whitman, a position which she held until 1998. As Commissioner of Banking and Insurance, she served as chairman of the New Jersey Commission on Ethical Standards, chairman of the Board of Mutual Benefit Life, director of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and director of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Financing Authority.

Commissioner Elizabeth Randall

From 1998–1999, Commissioner Randall served as vice president of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which manages the Meadowlands Sports Complex. From 1999–2002 and 1991–1994, Randall served as Bergen County counsel where she spearheaded important initiatives such as the downsizing of county government and the preservation of thousands of acres of open space. In 2001, she was also appointed by Acting-Governor Donald DiFrancesco to the Congressional Redistricting Commission.

In 2003, Commissioner Randall was elected to the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders, where she served through 2006. As a freeholder, Commissioner Randall worked to reduce the county debt, enact campaign finance reform in Bergen County, keep the Continental Airlines Arena open, help assure feasible transportation and protect Bergen County from over-development.

In addition to public service, Commissioner Randall has enjoyed a distinguished law career, serving as a law clerk for Bergen County Assignment Judge Theodore Trautwein from 1978–1979 and then as an assistant prosecutor in Essex County from 1979–1981. From 1984–1991, she was a member of the Law Offices of Randall, Randall & Stevens, during which time she served as attorney to the Borough of Hillsdale and municipal prosecutor to the Boroughs of Emerson, Dumont, Park Ridge and Woodcliff Lake.

Commissioner Randall has also been an active leader in community service throughout her career. She served on the Advisory Boards of the Rutgers Business School and Women United in Philanthropy. She has served on the board of directors of the Bergen Community College Foundation, the Community Resources Council, the United Way of Bergen County and Women Executives in State Government. She has also served as a Youth Coach for the Westwood Recreation Center.

Randall earned her undergraduate degree in government at Smith College in 1975 and her law degree from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1978.

 

Massachusetts Appoints New DPU Chair

Chair Ann G. Berwick

Ann Berwick was appointed Chair of the Department of Public Utilities by Governor Deval Patrick in June 2010. Prior to that, Chair Berwick was the Commonwealth’s Undersecretary for Energy and also served as acting chair of the Energy Facility Siting Board. As undersecretary, Chair Berwick was a key participant in the development of the Green Communities Act, the Patrick administration’s signature energy legislation, and worked closely on its implementation with the state’s Department of Energy Resources and Department of Public Utilities. Chair Berwick worked with those agencies on a range of issues, including the introduction of a more progressive building code and the development of renewable resources in the commonwealth.

Before serving in the Patrick administration, Chair Berwick was a senior consultant at M.J. Bradley & Associates in Concord, Mass. In that role she advised nonprofit organizations and electric distribution and generating companies on a wide range of issues, including environmental science; pollution control technology; and developments in state and federal energy and environmental law, regulation and policy.

Chair Berwick served as chief of the Environmental Protection Division in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office from 1991–1996, where she exercised joint oversight of the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force. From 1996–1997, she worked in the Alaska Attorney General’s Office, where she participated in litigation before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. She has also been a legal services attorney, and a partner in the litigation department at the Boston law firm Goulston & Storrs.

Chair Berwick holds a bachelor of arts from Radcliffe College and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

 

Maine Governor to Appoint Acting Commission Chairman

Governor John E. Baldacci recently announced that Sharon Reishus is stepping down as the chairwoman of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

”Sharon has been a strong chairwoman for the Commission as it has considered some of the largest and most complicated infrastructure projects in Maine history,” Governor Baldacci said. “She has been steadfast in defending the public interest, and expanding efforts to help businesses and consumers conserve electricity.”

During Chairwoman Reishus’ tenure, the Commission considered significant telecommunications, electric and natural gas utility cases that will have a lasting impact on Maine. In addition, Efficiency Maine, the energy efficiency program of the commission, has expanded to better serve families and businesses, providing grants that have helped companies protect jobs and grow in Maine.

“Maine has been well-served by Sharon,” Governor Baldacci said. “She has treated people fairly while also working hard to protect Maine families and businesses.”

Chairwoman Reishus has been a national leader on energy issues, representing Maine at the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Eastern Interconnection State Planning Council (EISPC), and New England State Committee on Electricity (NESCOE). She is the past president of the New England Conference of Public Utility Commissioners (NECPUC).

As chairwoman, Reishus also led an internal reorganization of the staff to increase efficiency and effectiveness, transition to a new building in Hallowell, and facilitating the transition of the Commission’s Energy Division programs to the newly independent Efficiency Maine Trust.

Chairwoman Reishus will step down on July 12. Commissioner Jack Cashman will be named Acting Commission Chairman.

The governor said he intends to nominate a new PUC Commissioner for consideration by the Legislature during a confirmation Special Session, which will likely be held later this summer.

Chairwoman Reishus was appointed Commissioner in July 2003 and appointed Chairwoman in May 2008. Before joining the Commission, Chairwoman Reishus was Director, North American Power, for the Cambridge Energy Research Associates. She was a staff analyst at the commission from 1991 to 1998. She has also worked for Central Maine Power Company and for the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C.

Commissioner Cashman was appointed to the Commission in August 2008. He has served as the Senior Economic Adviser to the Governor and as the Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. He served in the Maine House of Representatives from 1982 to 1992 and the Old Town City Council from 1977 to 1983.

 

North Carolina Gains New Commissioner

Commissioner Lucy T. Allen

Governor Beverly Perdue appointed Allen to the North Carolina Utilities Commission. Commissioner Allen was born in Louisburg, N.C. After attending Duke University and Meredith College, she taught middle school language arts. Subsequently, she served eight years on the Franklin County Board of Education.

Commissioner Allen was mayor of Louisburg for 16 years. Louisburg owns and operates its municipal electric system and is a member of both the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency and Electricities. Allen represented Louisburg as a member of the Electricities Board of Directors and was active in Power Agency matters. She was president of the League of Municipalities (1999–2000) and active in the National League of Cities.

She was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2002 for the first of four terms. There she most recently was chair of the Environment Committee for two terms. In addition she served as a co-chair of the Environmental Review Commission.

 

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Approves Settlement Agreement

At its public meeting on June 16, 2010, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission approved a settlement agreement, authorizing Aqua Pennsylvania to increase its water rates to produce additional annual operating revenue of $23.6 million, or approximately 6.46 percent. Pa. P.U.C. v. Aqua Pennsylvania, Inc., Docket No. R-2009-2132019. Absent extraordinary circumstances, Aqua Pennsylvania will not seek to increase its base water rates until November 2011 (the company may, however, continue to make quarterly DSIC filings during the base rate stayout period). The stipulated rate structure was designed to move the rates of all of Aqua Pennsylvania’s individual rate divisions closer to system average, consistent with the principle of single tariff pricing. In addition, the company agreed to substantially increase AP shareholder funding of its Helping Hand (customer assistance) program.

 

California American Water Urges Conservation

Operating under a state mandate to decrease pumping from the Carmel River, California American Water Company has stepped up its efforts to promote conservation by its Monterrey District customers. California American, working in concert with the Monterrey Peninsula Water Management District, has implemented a program whereby customers can receive rebates for replacing their lawns with low water use plants or permeable surfaces, or by installing synthetic turf. In addition, customers can qualify for rate offsets by installing cisterns and storing rain water.

 

Missouri PSC Approves Rate Increase

By Order issued June 16, 2010, the Missouri Public Service Commission authorized a revenue increase for Missouri American Water Company, to become effective July 1, 2010, of approximately $28 million. Re Missouri American Water Company, 2010 Mo. PSC Lexis 595. In approving a settlement presented by most, but not all, of the intervening parties, the commission observed that the average residential customer rate increase varied widely among Missouri American’s different districts and directed its staff, Missouri American and the Office of Public Counsel to submit a report “setting forth, for each service in each service territory, the underlying facts that support each territory’s cost of service. Such details may include, but are not limited to, variations in infrastructure requirements, age of each system, number of customers or differences in water treatment to make water potable.”

R.I. Supreme Court Upholds PUC Decision

In an Opinion issued on June 17, 2010, the Supreme Court of Rhode Island dismissed an appeal taken by the Kent County Water Authority from a rate decision of the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commissions. In re Kent County Water Authority Change in Rate Schedule, 2010 R.I. Lexis 86. The authority argued unsuccessfully that the PUC had erred in (1) denying full funding of its infrastructure-replacement program; (2) disallowing a portion of a claimed salary increase; and (3) holding that the authority’s customers should not be forced to shoulder 100 percent of employee health insurance premiums. As to the latter issue, the court noted that most, if not all, public water utilities require their employees to contribute toward their health insurance and that the PUC’s decision to disallow 10 percent of the authority’s expense claim represented “the slow dawn of a new day in the public benefits arena.”