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Polis won’t reappoint Colorado PUC chair

DENVER, Colo. — Jeffrey Ackermann, the chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, is not being reappointed by Gov. Jared Polis.

At the PUC’s weekly meeting on Sept. 23, Ackermann advised that leadership on several current or future electric resource projects will necessarily be led by others.

“As I sit here, I have about 100 days left on my term, and I will no longer be on the commission. So we need to plan for this transfer.”

Polis offered no explanation.

“We thank Jeff for his work and commitment while serving on the Public Utilities Commission,” said Shelby Wieman, deputy press secretary. “As with each administration, appointments to boards and commissions are at the Governor’s discretion.”

Less than two years into his term, Polis has made clear that he prefers to have his own appointees on boards and commissions, only occasionally making reappointments. He also likes to diversify the faces. The PUC has had a number of women in recent years, but little racial diversity.

Jeffrey Ackermann

Ackermann brought much to the board, as he had worked for Xcel early in his career and then at the PUC as a staff member before directing the Colorado Energy Office for several years in the Hickenlooper administration.

Having legal chops helps, and, of course, understanding the energy landscape. Being on board with the climate change legislation adopted by legislators and a centerpiece of the Polis platform will be crucial. And, unlike Susan Perkins, the first appointee of Polis to the PUC last winter, this new appointee must register no strong objections from Senate legislative leaders. Perkins, who had been critical of Black Hills Energy, was opposed by Senate President Leroy Garcia. He comes from Pueblo, the fiefdom of Black Hills in Colorado.

By statute, no more than two members can be of the same political party. Gavan is a registered independent.

Finally, as just a political reality, Polis’s appointee probably can’t be from the Western Slope, as both John Gavan (Paonia) and Megan Gilman (Edwards) are from the Western Slope. That rules out one possible nominee in my mind.

This is from the Oct. 2, 2020, issue of Big Pivots. If you want to be on the subscription list, go to BigPivots.com

All this said, I’m guessing that the leading candidates are either KC Becker, the speaker of the House (until January), and Dominique Jackson, a state representative and a member of the House Transportation and Energy Committee.

Becker has  extensive engagement in energy and climate issues and, I am guessing, would get the nod of her soon-to-be-former legislative leaders.

I have no inside knowledge on this, so consider these as guesses—and not my kiss of death. I also had the Denver Nuggets upsetting the Los Angeles Lakers.

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