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Government & Politics

DeWine Rejects List of PUCO Nominees

power lines in Canal Winchester, Ohio
Andy Chow
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Gov. Mike DeWine is asking for more candidates to consider to fill the spot of chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which Sam Randazzo vacated in the fall of 2020.

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) is asking for a new list of candidates to potentially chair the state's utilities regulatory agency. The former chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio resigned after the FBI raided his home.

DeWine rejected the four candidates named by the PUCO Nominating Council. But he did pick one of them, former Supreme Court Justice Judith French, as director of the Ohio Department of Insurance. 

The other names listed with French included, Angela Amos, Anne Vogel and Greg Poulos.

"I reject the first list and request you reconvene the PUCO Nominating Council to provide me with a second list. The second list may include candidates that have previously applied, along with new applicants," DeWine said in his letter to the council.

Ratepayer and environmental advocacy groups criticized DeWine's call for new nominees, saying he was turning his back on two qualified candidates with no connections to big energy companies. 

"While there were names on the original list of four who had prior and present financial ties to Ohio’s regulated utilities, there were also qualified individuals on the list for consideration. Why would Governor DeWine turn away professionals with extensive utility market experience and consumer advocacy expertise who could have brought a fresh start and much-needed perspective to a PUCO that is currently in the shadows of scandal?" Rachael Belz, director of the Ohio Consumers Power Alliance, said in a written statement.

Former PUCO chair Sam Randazzo resigned in November after the FBI searched his home and reports surfaced suggesting a possible conflict between him and Ohio's large utility company, FirstEnergy, which is also thought to be at the center of a $61 million federal bribery investigation.
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