Paul Austin

Paul Austin is the director of Conservation Minnesota, a statewide non-profit. In that role, he gets to hear and share Minnesotan’s stories about our lakes, lands and way of life. Paul’s past lives include election as a small town mayor, serving at the US Agency for International Development, and managing a small marketing firm. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, two small children and one very large dog.

Great Pick for PUC

Posted by: Paul Austin under Energy, Government Updated: January 8, 2014 - 12:04 PM

In the first week of the year, with the mercury fighting to break its way out of the bottom of the thermometer, it's a fitting time for Governor Dayton to make an important appointment to the Public Utilities Commission.  After all, if the PUC is doing its job well, we can all keep warm when the high temp outside is –17. 

The PUC is the state’s agency responsible for the regulation of public utilities such as electric, natural gas and landline telephone service. The PUC also has oversight of the construction or modifications to large energy facilities such as electric power plants, transmission lines, wind power generation plants, and large natural gas and petroleum pipelines.  When they are doing their jobs well, few, if any, of us ever hear about them.

Governor Dayton’s should be applauded for his appointment of Dan Lipschultz to this important but unsung post.  By naming Lipschultz to the Commission, he has given us someone with the diverse experience to make good decisions and a record of protecting consumers.  Lipschultz formerly served as the attorney for the commission, and also has experience as a ratepayer advocate for the Attorney General’s Residential and Small Business Utility Division. He understands how vitally important the work done by the PUC is, and he should be able to utilize his career experience to the betterment of all Minnesotans.  

 So while we all wait for the thermometer to go above zero, I wanted to make sure that the news of this appointment got a bit of extra attention.  The selection was about as far from controversial as one can get.  But with an agency this important to all Minnesotans, that is a really good thing.

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