Press Release: South Dakota PUC elects new leaders

South Dakota PUC elects new leaders

PIERRE, SD – The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission this week elected Commissioner Chris Nelson as its new chairman and Commissioner Kristie Fiegen as vice chairman. The three-member panel, which also includes Commissioner Gary Hanson, conducted the votes at a meeting in Pierre on Jan. 20.

In his nominating remarks, Hanson praised Nelson’s leadership role on a national level, particularly in the telecommunications arena. “Commissioner Nelson has ascended to the chairmanship of the telecommunications committee of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in a short time. As such, he seeks solutions and offers advice on many complex telecommunications issues, working with federal regulators and other states’ utility regulators. South Dakotans are well served by Commissioner Nelson,” Hanson said.

Nelson joined the PUC in January 2011 by appointment by Gov. Dennis Daugaard to serve two years to fill a vacancy. He won election in November 2012 to serve the remaining four years of the term. He was voted by his fellow commissioners as chairman once before, in 2012, and has been vice chairman three times:  in 2011, 2013 and 2014. The Federal Communications Commission named him to the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, representing the interests of state utility commissioners.

Nelson nominated Fiegen for the vice chairman post. He described her as an apt and able commissioner. “Commissioner Fiegen has shown tremendous dedication to utility customers, is conscientious about studying the issues and insists on integrity,” he stated.

Fiegen spoke about the work of the commission. “There are currently many exciting and challenging issues in the world of utility regulation,” Fiegen noted. “We have a busy year ahead of us at the PUC. I am grateful to be serving with commissioners and working with staff members who are deeply committed to their duties,” she said.

First appointed by Gov. Daugaard in August 2011 to fill a vacancy, Fiegen was then elected to the PUC in November 2012. This is Fiegen’s second stint as the PUC’s vice chairman, having held that role in 2012. She is a member of the NARUC Committee on Gas and serves on the Subcommittee on Pipeline Safety. Fiegen is part of the Gas Technology Institute’s Public Interest Advisory Committee.

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