Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Board Cooling-off Period Still Under Debate at MISO

By Amanda Durish Cook

MISO’s Advisory Committee is still deliberating whether state regulators elected to the RTO’s Board of Directors should be subject to the same “cooling-off” period requiring industry executives to wait one year after leaving a regional company before joining the board.

During a Feb. 20 conference call, committee Chair Audrey Penner said the discussion was “simply forward-looking” and that she had not heard of any member challenging the nomination and election of former Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Chair Nancy Lange to the board last year.

The MISO Advisory Committee in December | © RTO Insider

Lange’s appointment to the board, made while she was finishing her term on the commission late last year, sparked stakeholder conversations over whether the one-year moratorium for executives should also apply to regulators. Members were mixed in their views, with some sectors — such as independent power producers and utilities — favoring a broader application of the rule, while others thought it should not apply. (See MISO Members Split on Regulator Cooling-off Period.)

A representative from MISO’s State Regulatory Authorities sector Wednesday said the group continues to believe that state regulators are naturally resistant to conflicts of interest.

“Their work is entirely focused on protecting the public. … We don’t have material business relationships, and we take a statutory oath,” Minnesota PUC Commissioner Matthew Schuerger said.

However, DTE Energy’s Nick Griffin said a cooling-off period for candidates across all industry sectors “makes sense.” He said the Transmission Dependent Utilities sector supports the moratorium extension to regulators in MISO states.

The board is awaiting a recommendation from the Advisory Committee as to whether it prefers expanded use of the yearlong sit-out provision. Director Thomas Rainwater, who last year chaired the Corporate Governance and Strategic Planning Committee, has said his committee will act on the Advisory Committee’s recommendation.

Penner asked for more written sector opinions on the topic. The Advisory Committee will again take up the item at its next meeting on March 20 in New Orleans.

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