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WASHINGTON (February 11, 2021) — Regulators, energy and utility representatives and stakeholders convened for six days of virtual meetings for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Winter Policy Summit February 4, 5 and 8-11, which culminated in the adoption of national resolutions.
General sessions featured discussions of moving innovations from the lab to the marketplace, green hydrogen and a congressional update from Representative Mike Simpson (Idaho). He covered a range of subjects with NARUC President Paul Kjellander, including the matter of safe nuclear waste disposal, which he viewed as a priority and referred to Yucca Mountain as “the most studied piece of earth in the world.” Simpson also expressed optimism that a spirit of bipartisanship will return to Congress and society at large.
The nearly 850 attendees heard from other high-profile speakers such as Llewellyn King, PBS host of “White House Chronicle,” and Department of Energy Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman.
Along with the normal slate of committee and subcommittee panels, a highlight of the summit included a discussion of the book, Lewis Latimer, The First Hidden Figure (authored by Public Utilities Fortnightly Editor Steve Mitnick) as part of the National Regulatory Research Institute’s book talk series, which examines the life of the eponymous inventor, credited with making early technologies such as the lightbulb possible.
The board of directors unanimously approved two new resolutions from the Committee on Telecommunications and the Committee on Water, as follows:
TC-1 Resolution on the Federal Communications Commission’s Review of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Auction Bidders Long Forms
Resolution urges the FCC to closely scrutinize the long-form applications and subsequently filed technical, financial, and managerial information of provisional RDOF support winners to ensure that each provider does in fact have the technical, financial, managerial, operational skills, capabilities, and resources to deliver the services at the speeds and latency tiers they have pledged for every American they plan to serve, regardless of the technology they use.
WC-1 Resolution on Exempting Water and Wastewater Utilities that Follow all Applicable Laws in the Removal and Disposal of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances from America’s Drinking Water Supply from Liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act Stemming from the Designation of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances as Hazardous Substances
Resolution supports efforts by state regulators, the U.S. EPA, and Congress to prevent PFAS chemicals from entering our nation’s water supply and to hold accountable those entities that are responsible for environmental contamination.
Recognition for Public Service
Along with the panel sessions and regional meetings, NARUC presented awards in memory of dedicated public servants. First is the Ray Baum Memorial Leadership Award. This annual award was initiated to honor the memory of Ray Baum, who passed away in 2018 and is given to a member of the NARUC Staff Subcommittee on Telecommunications who best reflects Baum’s initiative and drive toward public service. He was a long-time member of NARUC, the go-to staffer on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a nationally recognized expert on utility law. This year’s winner is Greg Doyle, telecommunications manager from the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Doyle serves as the vice chair of the Staff Subcommittee on Telecommunications.
The Mary Kilmarx Award for Good Governance, Clean Energy and the Environment is presented by the Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment. The award was initiated in memory of Mary Kilmarx, who passed away in 2002 and had been a commissioner and long-time staff member of the Rhode Island PUC, as well as a three-term representative in the Rhode Island legislature. Those who remember Mary remember a fun, positive, feisty woman. This year’s award went to Jeff Ackermann, former chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, whose term expired in January 2021. Ackermann was also co-chair of the Task Force on Comprehensive Electricity Planning led by NARUC and the National Association of State Energy Offices. He has more than three decades of experience in state government and the energy sector and led the research efforts at the PUC, focusing on issues ranging from electric system planning to the regulatory implications of emerging technologies.
NARUC recognized several outgoing committee chairs and honored former staff and commissioners with honorary resolutions.
The next NARUC meeting, the Summer Policy Summit, is scheduled for July 18-21, 2021.
NARUC is a non-profit organization founded in 1889 whose members include the governmental agencies that are engaged in the regulation of utilities and carriers in the fifty States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. NARUC's member agencies regulate telecommunications, energy, and water utilities. NARUC represents the interests of State public utility commissions before the three branches of the Federal government.