Former DEEP official Dykes to head regulatory agency
Just days after being chosen to fill a vacancy on Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, Katie Dykes has now been selected to head the regulatory agency.
Dykes, who lives in West Hartford and is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, was named last Thursday to fill the PURA vacancy created earlier this month when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made former agency chairman Art House the state’s new Chief Cyber Security Risk Officer.
Although Dykes’ position as a commissioner hasn’t been confirmed by the General Assembly, state law permits a new nominee to the agency to begin hearing cases right away, said Michael Coyle, a spokesman for PURA.
“Today was her first day as a commissioner and she hasn’t heard any cases yet,” Coyle said. “But she is going to step right into the hearing process soon.”
Dykes was not available for comment on Monday.
PURA, which oversees the state’s utilities, has three commissioners and House’s departure left the agency short-handed for more than two weeks at the time of the year that is traditionally a busy period for regulators. The other two commissioners are John Betkoski III and Michael Caron.
Dykes comes to PURA from the Department of Energy and Environment Protection, where she a deputy commissioner. Her annual salary for that job was $137,800 and while compensation in her new position is still being determined, Dennis Schain, a DEEP spokesman, said it will be in the range of between $134,748 and $173,091,
While at DEEP, Dykes served as the agency’s point person for energy issues. That makes her uniquely qualified to serve on PURA, said Joel Gordes, a West Hartford-based energy consultant.
“Katie has a tremendous amount of policy experience in the policy realm,” Gordes said. “She has had a big hand in shaping the state’s energy policy.”
It is her involvement in setting energy policy that is troubling to some officials with environmental groups around the state. They spoke on the condition they remain anonymous out of concern how it might prejudice the agency handling of future cases.
Some of the environmentalists say they think Dykes should recuse herself from hearing PURA cases which involve policy that she has helped craft.
DEEP Spokesman Dennis Schain said Dykes is sensitive to concerns that she should recuse herself in some cases. Dykes and PURA’s staff are currently reviewing cases before the regulatory body that might require her recusal, Schain said.
As a quasi-judicial body, PURA is required to make its ruling based upon testimony that is given at public hearings or sent to the agency. The regulatory agency had previously been an independent before the Malloy administration brought PURA under the control of DEEP IN 2011.
Gordes said that Connecticut is the only state in New England where a utility regulatory agency is not an entirely independent body.
Call Luther Turmelle at 203-680-9388.