COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s top utility regulator resigned on Friday, marking the fourth departure from the job since Gov. John Kasich was elected in 2010.
Andre Porter, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, said in his resignation letter that the decision to leave for the private sector was “very difficult.” His last day will be May 20.
“The past five years have been filled with unforgettable life-changing experiences,” said Porter, who previously served as a utility commissioner and as Kasich’s director of commerce. He was also a member of the governor’s Task Force on Police-Community Relations.
Porter’s announcement comes the same week federal regulators dealt a blow to the Ohio commission over a pair of energy deals it approved last month. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says the power purchase agreements, filed separately by Columbus-based AEP and Akron-based FirstEnergy, cannot take effect until they are approved at the federal level. The deals have drawn national attention from business, consumer, environmental and energy groups.
PUCO spokeswoman Holly Karg said Porter’s decision is unrelated.
“That FERC decision was on Wednesday,” Karg said. “This isn’t the kind of life decision a person makes in a day.”
Kasich spokesman Joe Andrews said they “very much appreciate Andre Porter’s distinguished record of public service.”
Replacing a chairman has become familiar fare at the PUCO.
Porter served only about a year of the five-year term as chairman to which Kasich appointed him.
His predecessor, former state budget director Tom Johnson, served in the role also for only about a year. He stepped down last spring, but remains on the commission. Before that, Todd Snitchler chaired the panel for about three years. He replaced long-time chairman Alan Schriber, who announced his resignation shortly after Kasich won his first election as governor.
Schriber, an economist from Cincinnati, had served as chairman under both Republican and Democratic governors from 1999 to 2011.
Karg said a nominating council will be appointed to recommend a replacement for Porter’s open commission seat. Once the five-member panel is restored, Kasich can appoint another chairman from among its members.
A temporary chair could be appointed from the four sitting members if the replacement process isn’t concluded by the time Porter leaves.