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WASHINGTON (November 13, 2020) — The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners hosted its Annual Meeting and Education Conference in a virtual environment that saw a change in leadership, insights from federal regulators, discussions on critical issues and approval of resolutions across sectors.
Mississippi Commissioner Brandon Presley, who served as president since last November, set the tone for the meeting with his theme, Bridging the Divide — an attempt to highlight the serious deficits and chasms across all utility sectors, the prescience of which was shown by the pandemic. Presley noted in a farewell letter to fellow commissioners his appreciation for his colleagues and their collective mission.
“We each play a necessary role in delivering vital services to the people of this nation and I know that we, as NARUC members, are delivering like never before despite the pandemic and the challenges of our time,” he wrote. “Your states are stronger and better because of your service and NARUC is a better organization because you’ve joined us.”
Under his leadership, Presley created an Emergency Preparedness, Recovery and Resiliency Task Force and a Broadband Expansion Task Force, along with helping to draw attention to issues of exorbitant calling rates for prison populations and the need for social change. He also helped make COVID-19 information available to regulators and others via an online resource site.
Connecting the Dots: A Three-Year Plan
The members elected a new slate of officers, as follows: Paul Kjellander (Idaho), President; Judith Jagdmann (Virginia), First Vice President and Michael Caron (Connecticut), Second Vice President. During his installation remarks, Kjellander outlined his vision for the coming year. The multi-year theme, Connecting the Dots: Innovative/Disruptive Technology and Regulation, is focused on exploring the many different emerging technologies and innovations affecting electricity, natural gas, telecommunications and water/wastewater utilities.
In his remarks, Kjellander said the theme was developed collaboratively with Jagdmann and Caron, who will adopt it for their presumed terms as president, which is a break from the usual single-term, one-year theme.
“An opportunity to explore alternative and optional forms of regulation that might incent the implementation of new technology and practices can also emerge from this topic,” he said, and also acknowledged that the challenges presented by the pandemic has “given us all some new insights on how to better serve the members of NARUC.”
Along with the array of utility panels, the virtual conference attracted national utility leaders, including Commissioner Neil Chatterjee of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The former FERC chairman presented keynote remarks related to his tenure leading the agency and thoughts on the future of FERC.
During his remarks, Chatterjee stated that FERC will be "at the epicenter of energy and environmental policy" and although he is no longer chairman, he “will continue to be a leading voice and driver of change.”
Commissioner Diane X. Burman, of the New York State Public Service Commission, received the Annual Terry Barnich Award for her leadership from NARUC’s Committee on International Relations. The award, which recognizes state commissioners and staff who promote international cooperation among utility regulators and the development of professional regulation, is named in honor of former Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman Terrence "Terry" Barnich, killed on Memorial Day, May 25, 2009, while working as the deputy director of the State Department office overseeing U.S. reconstruction projects in Iraq.
Resolutions Passed and New Committee Named
The NARUC Board of Directors passed a slate of honorary and substantive resolutions, along with transitioning a subcommittee to a new committee.
A constitutional amendment was passed to reclassify the Subcommittee on Supplier and Workforce Diversity as the Select Committee on Regulatory and Industry Diversity. A move that increases the status and visibility for the committee, which works to advance awareness, education and opportunities for regulatory industry stakeholders in workforce inclusion and diversity.
Several resolutions were adopted, as follows:
The resolutions packet is available online at bit.ly/Annual20Resolutions.
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.