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Enviromentalists urge PUC members to go green on utilities

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Jeff Ackermann and Wendy Moser are Gov. John Hickenlooper’s news appointees to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. The three-member panel regulates utilities and tries to maintain reasonable prices, as well as overseeing taxis and ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

That sounded like good news to Pete Maysmith, executive director of Conservation Colorado, the state’s highest profile environmental group.

“Gov. Hickenlooper has made two strong choices with these picks,” Maysmith says. “We look forward to working with the Public Utilities Commission to support more clean, renewable energy that will create jobs and cause far fewer emissions and less pollution while keeping rates affordable. Under their leadership, along with Commissioner Frances Koncilja, Colorado can continue to chart its own path towards a clean energy future, no matter what happens in Washington, D.C.”

Ackermann is executive director of the Colorado Energy Office. Moser is a senior manager at Charter Communications.

“I am honored to be asked to carry on the important work of the PUC, work that is integral to Colorado’s continued economic well-being and that honors our inclusive and reasoned approach to problem-solving,” Ackermann said in a statement released by the Governor’s Office.

He will be replaced as head of the Colorado Energy Office. The PUC chairman earns $133,488, and the two commissioners are paid $122,712 a year.

In a statement last month, Senate President Kevin Grantham of Canon City said, “Senate Republicans will ensure that any new appointee to the Public Utilities Commission is firmly committed to making the well-being of Colorado ratepayers their top priority. Our most vulnerable citizens and small businesses rely on affordable energy. We also believe the Public Utilities Commission should be prepared to participate as a full partner in a broad regulatory reform agenda moving forward.”

It will take a majority in the state Senate, where the GOP has a one-seat majority. to confirm Hickenlooper’s nominees.

The moves are part of a shakeup, controversial or not. PUC Chairman Joshua Epel resigned last month, and Commissioner Glenn Vaad plans to leave the three-member board effective next Monday. Koncilja, a lawyer, has been a PUC commissioner since her Senate confirmation last February. 

“I’m grateful to be selected for the PUC and will do my best to uphold the laws and regulatory framework for the benefit of Coloradans,” stated Moser.

Vaad is a former state representative and former Weld County commissioner, who worked for the Colorado Department of Transportation for 31 years.

“We thank Glenn for his many years of service to the people of Colorado,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “He played an invaluable role on the PUC where he helped shepherd the implementation of the Clean Air Clean Jobs act and the renewable energy standard.”

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