- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Oregon’s top utility regulator, Susan Ackerman, has withdrawn her request to Gov. Kate Brown for reappointment to a second term.

Ackerman is chair of the Oregon Public Utility Commission, a three-member governing body that regulates utility companies and the costs they charge Oregonians for electricity, water and natural gas, among others.

Her first term ended earlier this month, and on Friday she sent a letter to Brown saying she’s no longer seeking reappointment to a second four-year term, a request she submitted back in December. She told Brown of her plans to leave May 20, but is willing to stay until after a successor is named later that month, when the Oregon Senate is slated to meet in Salem to confirm various appointments.

Ackerman and the PUC made headlines last month when the Oregon Legislature was in the throes of heated debate over an aggressive pro-climate bill that eliminates coal from Oregon’s energy supply, which Brown signed into law last week.

Emails and other public records obtained by The Oregonian revealed Ackerman and the PUC repeatedly expressed concerns about the bill with Brown’s office, but their efforts to schedule meetings fell on deaf ears. She later testified before lawmakers, saying there had been “communication miscues” but the PUC wasn’t shut out overall.

Ackerman did not respond to The Associated Press’s requests for an interview.

Speaking on her behalf was Michael Dougherty, chief operating officer of the PUC, who said “I don’t believe so,” when asked if the anti-coal bill controversy and strained communications with Brown’s office played a role in her decision to leave.

“She just thought it was a good time to leave,” Dougherty said. “She just wanted to take some time off, have a sabbatical, do something that she wanted to do for a while and she’s in a position to do it.”

Kristen Grainger, a spokeswoman for Brown, said in an email that Ackerman notified the governor of her plans to withdraw her application a couple weeks ago.

“She didn’t offer much by way of explanation other than her intention to take some time to think about future opportunities,” Grainger said. “Gov. Brown is grateful for her years of service to the state, and is undertaking to identify a successor.”



Click to Read More

Click to Hide