AUGUSTA — The newest member of the Maine Public Utilities Commission said Friday that she is looking forward to tackling some of the complex energy issues confronting the state but pledged to keep an open mind as the agency reviews a closely watched natural gas pipeline case.

Carlisle McLean, a Cumberland attorney, has been a senior adviser to Gov. Paul LePage for most of his administration, including serving as the governor’s top legal counsel since 2013. She joins the PUC, which plays a key role in regulating utilities and approving energy infrastructure projects, at a time when electricity prices and energy policies are major topics in Augusta and other state capitals in New England.

“I am going to be very careful and thoughtful as I proceed,” McLean said Friday after taking the oath of office in LePage’s office. “I am excited to get over there, get my sleeves rolled up and get working.”

McLean, 36, is LePage’s third appointment to the powerful agency, although not all of those appointees have served at the same time. She fills an open seat left by former PUC Chairman Tom Welch, who retired in December before his term was up. LePage is expected to nominate another person this spring to replace Commissioner David Littell, who was appointed by former Gov. John Baldacci and whose term expires in March. The PUC is chaired by Mark Vannoy, a LePage appointee.

The governor frequently ranks lowering Maine’s energy prices among his administration’s top priorities and has accused the PUC of not doing enough to make energy affordable for all Mainers. A frequent critic of what he sees as a well-funded environmental lobby behind wind power and other renewable energy sources, LePage regards expanded natural gas pipeline capacity as key to making Maine more competitive to businesses, particularly manufacturers.

McLean, who will begin her work at the PUC on Monday, joins the three-member board as it considers a proposal that would charge Maine ratepayers $75 million to subsidize an expansion of natural gas pipelines into the state. The new commissioner said she will keep an open mind as she weighs the complex case.


“I can’t comment on where I might end up. I don’t have any predetermined outcomes or agenda,” McLean said. “I need to look at the information, consider the ratepayers, consider the statute and see where it takes us.”

McLean also indicated that she would take a more conservative view of the role of the PUC, guided by her experiences working in both the regulatory and legislative realms and as a senior policy adviser to the governor.

“Obviously the substance will be very complicated and very complex … but I think what I will bring is an understanding of the process, to make sure the integrity of the process is upheld transparently,” McLean said. “I will always start with the statute whenever I make any decision and work from there.”

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

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