A former deputy commissioner at the Department of Public Service will become the newest member of a board that rules over electric utilities, natural gas infrastructure and other energy projects.
Gov. Peter Shumlin said in a release Monday that he’ll appoint Sarah Hofmann to a seat on the Public Service Board. She’ll replace retiring PSB member John Burke, and will join PSB chairman Jim Volz and board member Margaret Cheney on the three-person panel.
Hofmann worked at the Department of Public Service for nearly two decades, where she served, at various times, as special counsel, director of public advocacy and deputy commissioner. Hofmann, a resident of East Montpelier, currently works as executive director of the New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners.
“Sarah brings an excellent combination of accessibility, warmth and deep policy expertise to the Board,” Shumlin said in a written statement. “Her institutional knowledge, innate fairness and good sense of public engagement will serve the Board very well.”
The Public Service Board is responsible for oversight of all regulated utilities, which include electricity, landline phone service and natural gas. The panel approves or denies customer rates and also decides the fate of proposed energy projects, including wind turbines, solar arrays, and natural gas pipelines.
“I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to help shape our regulatory landscape for the coming years,” Hofmann said in a release about the appointment. “The utility world is changing and I want to help ensure that our choices are reasonable, affordable and sustainable. I am also excited to join the hard working staff and Board members at the Vermont Public Service Board."
The board has come under fire from critics over the past year, who say the panel hasn’t given due consideration to the impacts of proposed energy projects on affected landowners and the environment. Hofmann's history at the Public Service Department - the state's official ratepayer advocate - could assuage that perception.
The PSB also oversees cable television, telecommunications, water and large wastewater companies.
According to a release, Hofmann is a graduate of Rollins College and the University of New Hampshire Law School, and lives in East Montpelier with her partner Ken Libertoff.