Home > News > Paul Thomsen Resigns as PUC Commissioner

Paul Thomsen Resigns as PUC Commissioner

By Bob Conrad
Stillwater Solar-Geothermal Hybrid project. Image courtesy of the Nevada State Office of Energy.
Paul Thomsen

Paul Thomsen

Paul Thomsen has resigned as a commissioner of the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Governor Brian Sandoval’s communications director Mari St. Martin confirmed today his resignation, but a reason was not given by the time of publication.

The PUC’s public information officer deferred comment to the Governor’s Office, and Thomsen’s letter does not provide a reason for the resignation. Read it below.

Thomsen previously was chair of the PUC, but in the wake of last year’s rooftop solar debacle, he was seen as part of the commission’s polarization on the issue of net metering, which would have, according to numerous critics, neutered the state’s ability to incentivize rooftop solar.

The PUC maintained that it was following newly passed legislation and that net metering regulations were causing non-rooftop solar consumers to subsidize those with solar panels.

“The evidence that was presented was pretty clear … that there was a cost shift occurring and we made a rate design to eliminate that cost shift,” Thomsen said at the time, according to reporting on UtilityDive.com. “How [do we] reconcile some of those costs and values and how do we do it in a way that benefits the vast majority of ratepayers? I think everyone can take a step back and kind of say ‘evaluate your own personal bias and how those biases are affecting the value you are putting on these variables.'”

Thomsen was removed as chair by Governor Brian Sandoval last year but remained as a commissioner until just recently.

Sandoval has not named a successor.




Fred Voltz May 19, 2017 - 6:21 am

Fascinating that there was no public notification of this departure for over two weeks after it was received by the Governor’s office. Who was trying to hide what and why was the PUC’s public information officer, Peter Kostes, refusing to comment or proactively issue a press release?

Despite how Thomsen triangulated the situation in his resignation letter, the true reality is the PUC has been stacked with appointments (including Thomsen)to advance renewable energy projects with no consideration of the huge costs involved and the lack of technical/engineering viability. Electric rates could double, triple or spike even further with the current 100% renewable energy policy objective of the Governor and the major sponsors of pending legislation, Assemblyman Chris Brooks and state Senator Pat Spearman.

Through the last several years, the PUC failed to calculate the costs of this folly or the technical impossibility, especially during Thomsen’s time on the Commission when the net metering fiasco and other related matters have been on the PUC’s to-do list. The same applies to the Governor’s Office of Energy and all the various renewable energy companies and non-government organizations (NGOs) ceaselessly promoting guaranteed business for themselves.

The two remaining Commissioners, both appointed by the current Governor, also lack the technical expertise to do their jobs. One is the personal lawyer of the current Governor (Joe Reynolds) who continues to demonstrate his total lack of utility regulatory experience and the other (attorney Ann Poncracz) has zero experience dealing with investor-owned electric and natural gas companies. These positions, as with the 200 other state boards and commissions, are unilaterally appointed by the governor with no advise-and-consent check from another branch of government, such as the legislature.

As currently constituted, the PUC is advancing a political agenda and not operating, as it claims, as a quasi-judicial body making decisions only on facts and evidence.

The PUC has become an irrelevant and expensive anachronism that needs to be completely disbanded, particularly with the looming energy choice initiative likely receiving approval from Nevada voters a second time at the 2018 general election.

Bob Conrad
Bob Conrad May 19, 2017 - 1:14 pm

Fascinating indeed.

Comments are closed.

Share via
Send this to a friend