Former state rep emerges as PUCO finalist

A former state representative and Butler County farmer is among four finalists a nominating committee has forwarded to Gov. Mike DeWine to fill a vacancy on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Eugene Krebs was recommended to DeWine, along with Bryce McKenney, Dennis Deters and William Schuck, the PUCO said Thursday.

Previously, Joseph Fulford, a former Wright-Patterson Air Force Base engineer, was among 14 candidates who applied for the vacancy.

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Fulford was not a finalist.

The applicants seek to fill the seat left by PUCO Chairman Asim Haque, who left the commission March 1 to take a position with electric grid manager PJM Interconnection.

The PUCO is a powerful organization, charged with being the sole state agency responsible for regulating public utility service, including electric, water, natural gas and other services.

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Over his career, Krebs has been a state representative, a county commissioner, a think-tank executive with the Greater Ohio Policy Center and a school board member, as well as a Preble County farmer.

Krebs was also a finalist for a separate PUCO vacancy earlier this year, but DeWine named former utilities lawyer Sam Randazzo to that seat.

Krebs, a Republican, announced in September 2017 he was running for the Ohio Senate seat then held by Bill Beagle, who was term limited.

However, Krebs did not file petitions, and State Rep. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, got the party’s nod, going on to win against Democrat Paul Bradley for the 5th Senate District.

In a statement, Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Governing Board Vice-Chair Stuart Young said he voted for three of the finalists, without naming the three he supported.

“I voted today for three people that I think could provide balance for consumers as a commissioner on the PUCO, which is in desperate need of that balance,” Young said in a statement. “In this regard, the PUCO already in April will have three commissioners regulating utilities who themselves have represented utilities in the past.”

Deters, a 1st District Court of Appeals judge in Cincinnati, and a former Hamilton County commissioner, and McKenney, a former PUCO attorney examiner and administrative law judge, were also finalists in January for the previous vacancy.

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