January 13

Letter to the editor: Former PUC staffer questions bias perception

A Dec. 31 article on the Maine Public Utilities Commission (“Bill seeks to avoid conflicts that paralyze Maine PUC”) included this statement:

“In September, the PUC was the subject of a critical report from the Legislature’s independent watchdog agency, the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability. The report identified problems with the commission, including a public perception that the commissioners and staff have a bias toward the utilities, for which many of them have worked.”

I worked on the PUC’s technical staff for 18 years, from 1988 until 2006. No commissioner during that time – and none since – worked for a Maine public utility.

I can think of only two staff members who worked for Central Maine Power; I worked on CMP cases with both of them and they never showed a scintilla of bias toward CMP, or any toward any other utility. I know of no other current PUC staffers who have worked for a Maine public utility, or who ever demonstrated a bias toward a utility.

I was a professional mathematician for 46 years and worked for several companies. None matched the PUC staff members I worked with for professionalism, competence and dedication.

Thus, I would like to know what the basis was of the “public perception” the Legislature’s “watchdog agency” used to conclude PUC commissioners and their staff “have a bias toward the utilities” and that “many of them have worked” for them.

James Douglas Cowie



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