The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has two of its five seats open, with two of the remaining eight finalists having Ohio State ties.
Among the remaining finalists is Daniel Conway, an adjunct professor at Moritz College of Law and a partner at Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, LLP.
The other Buckeye vying for a seat on the commission is Raymond Lawton, a now-retired adjunct professor at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs and former director of The National Regulatory Research Institute.
What started out as two dozen candidates has been whittled down to eight. On Thursday, the 12-member selection committee will send four recommendations to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who will then select two to be approved by the Ohio Senate, said Matt Schilling, a media representative for PUCO.
Schilling said this is the first time that two seats have been open simultaneously.
The five-member regulatory commission is responsible for overseeing utility service providers within the state, including gas, electric and water companies. The commission reports directly to the governor’s office.
Lawton attributes his qualifications for the position to his time at OSU and what he has learned in more than 30 years here, dating back to 1973, when he received his doctorate.
“I came here to earn my degree and never left,” Lawton said. “I love the state of Ohio and think this is my time to give back.”
The shakeup at the five-member PUCO board comes at a time when Ohio will look to scale back regulation in the utilities departments, most notably the state’s electric regulatory structure.
Deregulation of utilities is a hotly contested topic, with many prominent companies both opposing and supporting of such measures. Columbus-based American Electric Power is among the most vocal opponents of deregulation. CEO Nick Akins called for the increased regulation of Ohio’s changing energy market in April.
Both Conway and Lawton said they were not able to comment on goals for their time as commissioners until the selection process was completed.
Lawton said his experience both domestically — he has worked in all 50 states — and abroad, most notably in Egypt, would set him up to excel in such a position.
“We could really use someone to help move things ahead,” Lawton said. “It’s not about political lines or how we vote. It’s about doing what is best for the state.”
Conway’s resume and application for PUCO show he has worked hand in hand with both PUCO, as well as state and federal courts, to “address fundamental changes in the technologies and economics that drive markets for communication and energy services.”
Conway said he attributes his readiness for the position directly to his time spent in the classroom, both teaching and interacting with students on a regular basis.
“I thoroughly enjoy my time in class with students, and I certainly have benefited from that experience,” he said. “The preparations for class and the in-class interactions with students have given me opportunities both to expand, sharpen and refresh my understanding of utility regulatory law and policy issues.”