HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) Commissioner Robert F. Powelson has been elected as the next president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). He will serve a one-year term.
“Since my first meeting in 2008, I have found NARUC to be an organization with a diversity of leaders and staff who work to bring a variety of perspectives to the table,” said Commissioner Powelson. “Its mission to serve the public is something that has been steadfastly supported by those who have come before me, and I am honored and committed to continuing this work.”
Founded in 1889, NARUC is a non-profit organization dedicated to representing the state public service commissions who regulate the utilities that provide essential services such as energy, telecommunications, power, water, and transportation. NARUC's members include utility regulators from all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Commissioner Powelson was nominated by PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown, who noted his extensive background and strong record of service in Pennsylvania. “It is with great pleasure that I nominate someone who is knowledgeable about issues that impact all of our states; someone who is forward thinking, especially in our ever changing environment; and someone who is passionate about public utilities, as demonstrated in every conversation he has on the many issues that we face as Commissioners,” said Chairman Brown.
Looking ahead to the coming year, Commissioner Powelson will focus on three critical issues driving the future of utility regulation: Infrastructure, innovation and investment. “I think we would all agree that no modern nation has ever achieved economic prosperity or a high quality of life without adequate investment in infrastructure,” Powelson said. “It is clear that encouraging sound financial investment in our nation’s utility infrastructure is an important issue and one that NARUC should be engaged in.”
Additionally, he noted that NARUC – and utility regulators across the country – can play a major role in embracing and fostering innovation. “From increased data analytics and cloud based software to new forms of energy storage – just to name of few – NARUC is the perfect place to examine these trends and figure out which ones have longevity and should be pursued,” Powelson noted. “Over the next year, NARUC will focus on bringing thought-leaders in technology to NARUC and showcasing some of the newest technologies in the utility realm.”
Finally, Commissioner Powelson stressed the need to invest in people, especially efforts to ensure that the next generation of utility workers is prepared for future challenges, along with a focused effort to encourage utilities to hire veterans. “Investing in people – investing in the brain trust that will carry us forward into the next generation – is an essential investment that cannot be overlooked,” Powelson said. “I would also like to launch a NARUC Task Force on Veterans’ Affairs to examine best practices for hiring veterans in utility work and for partnering with community colleges to produce qualified candidates. I believe this is a partnership that has the potential to benefit everyone.”
Commissioner Powelson was first nominated to the PUC in 2008, and he served as Chairman from 2011 to 2015. He is also a member of the NARUC Board of Directors and has served as NARUC first vice president, chair of the NARUC Committee on Water and a member of the Committee on Critical Infrastructure, the Subcommittee on Nuclear Issues-Waste Disposal and the Subcommittee on Education and Research.
Additionally, Commissioner Powelson is a past president of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners (MACRUC), a voting member of the National Regulatory Research Institute (NRRI) and serves on the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Advisory Council. He also served as a member of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission and was President of the Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry from 1994 to 2008.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
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