Since mid-March, the New York Public Service Commission (“PSC”) has had only two Commissioners, leaving it without a Chair and two additional Commissioners. This has caused many to question whether or not the PSC can act with only two Commissioners, and also creates concerns if the Commissioners are split on a matter.
There have been many rumors circulating over the last several months as to potential candidates for the PSC vacancies. At this juncture, no one has been formally nominated for any of the vacancies by Governor Cuomo. Based on a recent report in Politico, it may be the case that the relatively low compensation levels for Commissioners and the Chair are at least partially to blame for the shortage of qualified candidates. The salaries for PSC Commissioner and Chair are set by Statute and have not been adjusted since 1999. Reportedly, more than 60 staffers at the Department of Public Service earn more than the Chair of the Commission, and almost 100 staffers earn more than a regular Commissioner.
The continued short staffing of the Commission is potentially problematic, and these concerns will only grow over time. It will be interesting to see if qualified candidates do emerge for the vacant Commission slots, or if the Legislature is required to revisit the compensation levels for both Commissioner and Chair in order to attract qualified candidates.
Phillips Lytle’s Energy Practice Team has extensive expertise in Public Service Commission/Utility regulatory matters, including all aspects of retail energy regulation in New York and formal petitions to the Public Service Commission. For more information about Phillips Lytle’s Public Service Commission expertise, please contact David P. Flynn, Partner, at (716) 847-5473 or firstname.lastname@example.org.