Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is seeking a “smooth transition” in leadership at the Michigan Public Service Commission ahead of expected changes to the three-member energy oversight board.
Whitmer has designated Commissioner Dan Scripps, whom she appointed early in her administration, to chair the board effective July 27. MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg has resigned her leadership position as she is considered for a board position at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, but will remain on the MPSC pending her approval in Texas.
“The Michigan Public Service Commission is critical for creating and directing Michigan’s energy future. The commission remains focused on ensuring that Michiganders have reasonable rates for safe, reliable, and accessible energy and telecommunications services across the state,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Dan has the professional qualifications and dedication to serve as Chair of the Commission. I'm confident that he will continue Sally's leadership and that his skillset is the best fit for this commission and Michigan.”
Talberg is a political Independent who was appointed to the MPSC in 2013 by former Gov. Rick Snyder. She has chaired the board since August 2016.
In that time, Michigan’s energy market has undergone major changes that reflect broader economic shifts away from coal to natural gas and renewable energy. In 2016, the state Legislature passed sweeping energy reforms that transformed the way utilities conduct long-term planning. Utilities themselves also are planning widespread shifts to clean energy and have pledged to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decade.
Talberg’s current term ends on July 2, 2021. If her appointment to ERCOT is approved later this year, she would resign from the MPSC by January.
That leaves Whitmer an earlier-than-planned opportunity to appoint all new members to the MPSC in her first term. She could appoint an Independent or a Republican to the board, as no more than two commissioners can represent the same political party. The appointments are subject to the advice and consent of the state Senate. Scripps and Commissioner Tremaine Phillips are both Democrats.
Talberg called her chairmanship under two administrations a “great honor and privilege.”
“I am excited for this transition in my career and for this opportunity for Dan Scripps to lead the MPSC as the new chair,” Talberg said in a statement. “I am confident the Commission will continue its dedication to fair and balanced regulation and bring about positive change during these dynamic times for the energy and telecommunication industries.”
Prior to joining the MPSC, Scripps was an attorney and held leadership roles with clean energy advocacy groups, including the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council and the Institute for Energy Innovation. He also served one term in the state House of Representatives for the 101st District in the northwest Lower Peninsula.
“The MPSC has a well-earned reputation as a best-in-class commission, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to maintain and enhance Michigan’s critical energy and telecommunications infrastructure, and to ensure long-term affordability for Michigan customers,” he said in a statement.