DeWine picks utility lawyer for PUCO slot


Gov. Mike DeWine named a former utility attorney to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), the regulatory body that oversees electric and natural gas companies, among other interests.

Samuel Randazzo was perhaps the best known of four finalists DeWine considered to fill the post.

Randazzo has been heavily involved in Ohio energy policy for the past four decades. He has represented Industrial Energy Users-Ohio since 1992, and he been a critic of Ohio’s renewable energy mandates put in place in 2008.

Scott Elisar, an attorney in Randazzo’s former law firm, was on the nominating council that put Randazzo on the list of four candidates for DeWine to consider.

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DeWine will soon have another vacancy to fill. PUCO Chairman Asim Haque is leaving effective March 1 to take a job with Philadelphia-based regional transmission group PJM Interconnection.

Consumers advocates reacted to DeWine’s appointment.

“We recommend that (Haque’s) seat be filled with a bona fide representative of residential consumers, especially considering that the current PUCO commissioners include two former utility representatives,” a statement from the Office of the Ohio Consumers Counsel said Monday. “We wish chair Haque well in his future endeavors.”

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The leader of a state environmental group expressed some skepticism about the appointment.

“We are disappointed in this choice, as Mr. Randazzo has a lengthy career fighting against renewable energy and energy efficiency in Ohio,” Heather Taylor-Miesle, president of the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund, said in a release. “This move is out-of-step with the rest of the Midwest, where governors are committing to the future of energy, instead of the past.”

Randazzo will assume a five-year term starting April 11, 2019.

Among its duties, the PUCO determines power company “electric security plans (ESP),” plans whose charges make up the bulk of customers’ electric bills. They are complex plans that can take years to nail down and finalize.

The body approved a new ESP for Dayton Power and Light last fall.