Former WPAFB engineer seeks PUCO seat

Joseph Fulford, then with U.S. Air Force, at a 2011 career fair.
Joseph Fulford, then with U.S. Air Force, at a 2011 career fair.

A former Wright-Patterson Air Force Base engineer is among 14 candidates who have applied for the latest vacancy on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).

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

Joseph Fulford, a trustee with Wright Memorial Library in Oakwood and a former base engineer, is among the applicants eyeing the vacancy.

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Another applicant with regional connections is Gene Krebs, a Camden resident and former Butler County state representative. Krebs was also an candidate earlier this year for a different seat on the PUCO panel.

Haque’s partial term ends April 10, 2021.

A PUCO nominating council will forward finalists’ names to DeWine.

The 12-member nominating council will decide which candidates will be granted interviews before picking a quartet of finalists. The governor will then have 30 days to make an appointment, which is subject to Senate confirmation.

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Among the applicants are the three finalists selected by the PUCO nominating council earlier this year for a different seat on the panel. Krebs was among the candidates.

For the earlier vacancy, DeWine named former utilities lawyer Sam Randazzo to the commission as incoming chairman.

The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel — which seeks to represent residential interests in utility issues — issued a statement noting that in April, three of the five PUCO commissioners will be former representatives of utilities that the PUCO oversees.

“That’s more than enough utility perspective on the PUCO,” Dan Doron, spokesman for the consumers’ counsel, said in an email. “The upcoming appointment of a PUCO commissioner should give Ohioans the long overdue balance of someone who has years of experience as a bona fide representative of residential consumers.” ‎

In all, seven Republicans, four Democrats, and three independents have applied to fill the vacancy, according to Gongwer News Services.

The PUCO regulates electric and natural gas companies, telephone companies, water and wastewater companies and other utility services.

The body is comprised of five commissioners appointed to rotating, five-year terms.