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Walz fills vacancy on state Public Utilities Commission  

Sullivan lobbied for several regional environmental groups before joining the Commerce Department, including the Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment, and Wind on the Wires, a wind power advocacy group active in Minnesota and its neighboring states.

Credit:  By Matthew Guerry | Forum News service | March 10, 2020 | www.twincities.com ~~

Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday announced the appointment of a Minnesota energy official to a state Public Utilities Commission vacancy.

State Commerce Department Deputy Commissioner of Energy Resources Joseph Sullivan will start his six-year term in April. His seat on the five-member commission was previously held by former Gov. Mark Dayton appointee Dan Lipschultz, a metro-area utilities attorney whose term expired in January.

“It is an honor to be appointed by Governor Walz to the (PUC),” Sullivan said in a statement. “I thank the Governor and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan for the trust they have placed in me for this important role.”

Sullivan lobbied for several regional environmental groups before joining the Commerce Department, including the Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment, and Wind on the Wires, a wind power advocacy group active in Minnesota and its neighboring states.

Before becoming a lobbyist, Sullivan worked as an attorney for a municipal power agency in greater Minnesota through the St. Paul law firm Flaherty & Hood. He previously worked for the Internal Revenue Service as well as the U.S. House Committee on Science.

Sullivan beat out several current and former legislators who applied for the job. His appointment comes one month after the PUC approved key permits for the controversial Line 3 oil pipeline project that Canadian energy company Enbridge plans to rebuild in northern Minnesota.

Commissioner Matthew Schuerger was the sole member of the PUC, which Lipshultz had left by that point, to vote against the $2.6 billion project. The project, which supporters hail as a job creator and critics deride as an environmental hazard, still requires the approval of the state Pollution Control Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Sullivan’s appointment will be effective April 6 and expire on Jan. 5, 2025, though his appointment may be reviewed by the state Senate for confirmation. Commissioner Valerie Means, the official appointed to the PUC before Sullivan, began working for the agency soon after Walz appointed her in 2019, with the Senate confirming her retroactively this February.

State law prohibits the PUC from seating more than three members of the same political party.

“Joe has spent his career in energy and utilities, building a deep understanding of this field and the regulatory atmosphere. I have utmost confidence in his ability to build consensus and follow the process to produce fair outcomes for Minnesota,” Walz said in a statement.

The statement from Walz’s office included laudatory comments from groups active in Minnesota such as Fresh Energy and the regional Laborer’s International Union of North America chapter, which along with several other unions signed a labor agreement with Enbridge for the Line 3 project in December 2019.

In a statement to Forum News Service, the Sierra Club approved of Sullivan’s appointment as well.

Sullivan “brings deep knowledge of the energy sector and shares the Sierra Club’s commitment to climate action and environmental justice,” said Margaret Levin, the director of the state Sierra Club chapter. “With his insight we are hopeful that the Commission will prioritize a clean, healthy and more just future in its upcoming decisions.”

Source:  By Matthew Guerry | Forum News service | March 10, 2020 | www.twincities.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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