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New PUC Commissioner Anderson Has Quick Confirmation Hearing

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Wednesday was confirmation hearing day for former Rep. Eric Anderson, a five-term GOP House member from Priest River in the Idaho Panhandle who was appointed by Gov. Butch Otter last year to replace former PUC member Marsha Smith, who retired earlier in 2015 but then was reappointed by Otter last July after the death of Commissioner Mack Redford. Anderson will serve the remainder of Redford’s term, which expires Jan. 9, 2019.

As is often the case with gubernatorial appointments, Anderson’s confirmation hearing before the Senate State Affairs Committee was more of a courtesy call. Committee members had no questions aside from a few from Sen. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, about whether Anderson still has formal ties to the Northern Lights electric cooperative utility in northern Idaho, where Anderson served as a board member for about 20 years until he resigned after Otter named him to the PUC.

Since it’s not an investor-owned utility, Northern Lights is not regulated by the PUC, which oversees Idaho’s “big three” utilities – Idaho Power, Avista, and Rocky Mountain Power. Anderson assured Davis he is no longer a member of any regulated or non-regulated electric utility, although he said years of experience in the electric utility field has helped prepare him for the PUC post that he has occupied for the past month on an interim basis.

As is its custom, the Senate State Affairs Committee will vote to confirm Anderson at its next regular meeting, later this week.

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