The leadership of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission was transferred today to new chairman Chris Nelson after a vote among the three commissioners. Commissioner Kristie Fiegen was elected to serve as vice chairman.
In making the nomination for chairman, Commissioner Gary Hanson described Nelson as an academic who "understands issues from the 30,000-foot level down to the minutiae. His background as the secretary of state and his life experiences certainly qualify him to lead this commission," Hanson said.
Nelson is beginning his second year on the commission. He was appointed in January 2011 by Gov. Dennis Daugaard to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Dusty Johnson. Nelson moved into the chairman's position after serving as vice chairman since June 2011. He is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners and is on that group's Committee on Telecommunications. Prior to joining the PUC, Nelson was the South Dakota Secretary of State for eight years.
"I greatly appreciate the confidence my fellow commissioners have placed in me," Nelson said. "I further appreciate the professionalism and dedication of the staff and commissioners here and look forward to an exciting year."
Fiegen was appointed to the PUC by Gov. Dennis Daugaard in August 2011 to complete the remainder of the term left by Steve Kolbeck's resignation. Fiegen is a former member of the South Dakota House of Representatives and was the president of Junior Achievement of South Dakota before becoming a commissioner.
"Commissioner Fiegen brings vibrancy to the PUC," Hanson said in his nominating remarks. "She has shown to be a talented individual throughout her career. She is very, very capable to be the PUC's vice chairman," he said.
"I'm honored to accept this position as the PUC's vice chairman," Fiegen said. "I am pleased to be part of the commission when so much is occurring in the energy and telecommunications arenas."
Hanson served as the PUC's chairman in 2010, a post he also held in 2005 and 2008.