DC Council Rushes Public Service Commission Nominations

On November 21, community and business leaders from across the District of Columbia sent a letter to Mayor Bowser opposing the nominations of Willie Phillips and Greer Gillis to serve as members of the Public Service Commision.

November 25, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts:

Nikhil Balakumar, Coalition for a Resilient DC, 240-672-7049, Nikhil@Greentelgroup.com

Lara Levison, DC Sierra Club, 202-423-5523, laralevison@comcast.net

WASHINGTON, D.C — Councilmember McDuffie, in a rush to push through two key appointments to the DC Public Service Commission (PSC), is holding a roundtable on Monday, November 26, without the required 15 days’ notice for a public hearing that these nominations for commissioner and commission chairman deserve. Since the Public Service Commission regulates DC’s electric and gas utilities, the agency’s three commissioners have a vital role to play in achieving the mayor’s ambitious commitments to make DC carbon neutral and climate resilient by 2050.

Ms. Greer Gillis, currently the director of the DC Department of General Services, has no background in energy. Her experience as a transportation engineer has not prepared her for the issues before the Public Service Commission. On her watch, the renovation of the Duke Ellington School ran $100 million over budget.

“Would the Mayor pick a person with no law enforcement experience to serve as police chief, or a person with no education experience to run the DC school system?” said Lara Levison, Energy Committee Chair for the DC Sierra Club.  “Why nominate a person with no experience in electric or gas utilities to become one of our three Public Service Commissioners?”

Mr. Willie Phillips, nominated for the position PSC chairman, has served on the Commission for four years but has not shown a strong aptitude for issues or a demonstrated ability to lead the Commission during this era of transformation in the energy sector. Mr. Phillips voted for the Pepco-Exelon merger despite the lack of evidence that the merger would be in the public interest.

“Why is Chairman McDuffie letting the Mayor short-circuit the council’s oversight and confirmation role by sending these nominations so late? The terms for the current commissioners expired at the end of June,” said Nikhil Balakumar, Executive Director of the Coalition for a Resilient DC. “This apparently hurried hearing will bypass the opportunity for full examination of the record of the two nominees, and whether they have the necessary experience and vision to serve on the PSC. This is particularly concerning considering the generational impact of these appointments on our climate and clean energy given the UN’s IPCC report.”

Our organizations call on Chairman McDuffie to hold a formal public hearing with fifteen days’ notice to review the nominations.  Chris Weiss, Executive Director of DCEN, stated, “Holding a formal hearing will allow for full participation by DC residents and businesses in filling these positions that are so critical to DC ratepayers and the environment.”

On November 21, community and business leaders from across the District of Columbia sent a letter (attached) to Mayor Bowser opposing the nominations, which passed over several knowledgeable candidates who were interviewed by the Mayor’s office (see attached). The letter states, “We strongly urge you to pull these nominations. We are confident that capable, visionary leaders can be found for these positions — and help the District meet its energy and climate goals.”

 

Signed, 

DC Sierra Club
Coalition for a Resilient DC
DC Environmental Network
Grid2.0 Working Group
DC Statehood Green Party
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Solar United Neighbors
DC Consumer Utility Board

 

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