Friday, August 22, 2014

Another Revolving Door Example To Show Why The IURC Can't Be Trusted

Joseph Sutherland worked for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for more than 17 years. Before leaving the agency in 2012, he served as its executive director. He left to become a lobbyist at Utilitus, the lobbying arm of the Taft Law firm, whose lobbying clients include regulated utility companies. Last month, Sutherland was hired by Citizens Energy as its Director of Government and External Affairs. The IURC approved the controversial transfer of Indianapolis' water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy the year before Sutherland left the agency, a move that has contributed to spiraling water and sewer rate increases due to the enormity of the debt the nonprofit utility took on in order to make a substantial payout to the City to fund the Rebuild Indy infrastructure spending program.

An administrative law judge for the IURC, Greg Ellis, sought permission this spring to accept employment with Indiana American Water Co. while the company was seeking approval of a 10% rate increase. Last year, Kari Bennett, a commissioner for the IURC appointed by former Gov. Daniels to replace the disgraced former IURC chairman, David Lott Hardy, left her job to become senior corporate counsel for the Midcontinent Independent System Operator ("MISO"). Indiana's Inspector General, David Thomas, cleared Bennett taking the new position because she would not be lobbying the IURC in her new position. A former attorney for the IURC, Scott Storms, was fined by the state ethics commission and banned from future employment with the state after he took a job with Duke Energy when it was learned that he had handled a rate case for the utility company while he was interviewing for a job.

1 comment:

David said...

Why does anybody in this state believe that the IURC is anything other than a rubber-stamp for utility companies or a training ground for future utility corporation executives? In what way has the IURC ever shown that it exercises its legal duties in a way that is even slightly consistent with customers' best interests? For that matter, why does the IURC continue to exist as a state regulatory agency? What, exactly, does it "regulate"?