Several leadership changes have occurred at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW), the state’s utility regulator.
Chairperson Rebecca Valcq announced she is resigning from the commission effective this Friday, February 2 (news coverage here and here). In the same announcement, Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced that he had selected current Commissioner Summer Strand to take over as chairperson.
Gov. Evers appointed longtime PSCW staffer Kristy Nieto to replace Valcq once her resignation is effective. Most recently, Nieto served as the division administrator for energy regulation and analysis. Nieto will fill the remainder of Valcq’s term, ending March 1, 2025.
On January 16, the Senate voted on the appointments of Strand and Commissioner Tyler Hueber (Valcq was confirmed unanimously in 2019). The Senate confirmed Strand on a 27-5 vote (three Republicans and two Democrats voted “no”). The Senate rejected Huebner’s appointment on a party-line vote with one Republican dissenting, removing him from the commission (news coverage here and here). Gov. Evers is expected to name an appointee to replace Huebner relatively soon.
In a press release, Gov. Evers criticized Republican legislators for “baselessly firing” Huebner. Since Gov. Evers took office in January 2019, the Senate has rejected ten of his appointments, including Huebner, and confirmed nearly 500 others. In the 30 years prior to Gov. Evers’ tenure, the Senate rejected four gubernatorial appointments.
According to the WisPolitics news service, Senate utility committee chair Sen. Bradley (R-Franklin) “said Huebner had failed to take a stance on the commission’s decision to move forward with income-based rates, which Bradley argued the agency doesn’t have the authority to do.” During Huebner’s confirmation hearing last year, Republican senators also questioned his position on the PSCW requiring utilities to submit employee demographic data as part of the agency’s diversity efforts, and whether the commission has the authority to do so.
PSCW commissioners are appointed by the governor to staggered six-year terms and can be reappointed. Commissioners serve immediately upon appointment but are subject to Senate review and approval or rejection.