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Roisman named PSB chairman

MONTPELIER – Gov. Phil Scott has appointed attorney Anthony Roisman to serve as the next chairman of the three-member Public Service Board, a quasi-judicial board that regulates Vermont utilities and oversees the siting of energy infrastructure across the state.

Roisman, who has a private law practice, will succeed outgoing PSB Chairman James Volz, who was first appointed by Republican Gov. James Douglas in 2005 and reappointed by Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2011. Roisman will assume the chairmanship June 12.

“I think this is a unique opportunity because of a combination of factors – the quality of the other two commissioners, the staff of the Public Service Board, which is just an outstanding group of people, the citizens … and of course, all the utilities, who are, in my experience in dealing with utilities, are a very special group of companies who are trying to do the right thing for Vermont,” Roisman said in a telephone interview Thursday.

“That combination makes for just a tremendous opportunity to do good and it’s something I’m really looking forward to.”

According to the governor’s office, Roisman has worked as a consultant for attorneys on environmental litigation, public participation before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and state regulatory agencies, and on the admissibility of expert testimony in litigation.

“Tony has been involved in administrative and legal proceedings involving energy facilities and energy issues for more than five decades,” Scott said in a statement, “and I believe his experience will serve Vermont well as we navigate the transition to a cleaner and more affordable energy future that supports stronger economic growth and lower costs for families and employers.”

Roisman, who lives in Weathersfield, has also been an adjunct professor and research fellow in environmental studies at Dartmouth College. He lectures with the American Law Institute and others on expert witness admissibility and environmental law. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1960 and Harvard Law School in 1963.

Scott, who opposes wind turbines in Vermont and supports a moratorium on new ones, said at his weekly news conference Wednesday that none of the candidates he interviewed for the position are in favor of new wind turbines in the state.

Roisman said wind turbines should be limited to very specific locations.

“I think there are places where wind turbines make perfectly good sense,” he said. “On the most scenic ridge lines, to me personally, they aren’t what makes Vermont special.”

However, Roisman said his personal views will not affect how he applies the laws and regulations to projects and issues that come before the PSB.

“I have feelings about what I see, what I hear and how our energy is produced and so forth, but as a commissioner or chair of the Public Service Board, my job is to evaluate the pros and cons of whatever comes before us … and make a judgment based upon statutes that the Legislature has already implemented,” Roisman said.

“There’s not really a role in there for my vision,” he added. “It’s really my job to give every one of those interests an opportunity to be heard and then apply the laws and regulations to it.”

Roisman said his focus as the chairman will be to ensure that the public is heard.

“ One of the things I hope to be able to do, working with the other two commissioners and our staff, is to make it easier for people who want to have a say in a decision we are making to have that say,” he said. “The best decisions are one that have the best information from all sides of the issues.”