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Dayton chooses judge to head PUC

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Gov. Mark Dayton has appointed an administrative law judge as the new chair of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Beverly Jones Heydinger previously served as a deputy state attorney general.

The PUC regulates electricity, natural gas and telephone service throughout Minnesota.

Heydinger will succeed Dayton's first choice for the job, former state Sen. Ellen Anderson, a DFLer from St. Paul.

Senate Republicans voted in January to fire Anderson, charging that she was hostile toward traditional energy sources like coal, oil and natural gas. Dayton responded angrily to that vote, calling Republican senators "unfit to govern" the state.

Heydinger said she comes to the job with a much different, non-political background.

"I operate, and have now for the last 13 years, under the code of judicial conduct, which prohibits us from partisan political activity, in large part," said Heydinger. "And that, I think, is appropriate for the position I've been in. I've certainly maintained my objectivity throughout that."

In a news release, Dayton praised Heydinger for her ability to master complex issues quickly. Heydinger said she think her ability to collaborate makes her a good fit for the job.

"I do quite a bit of mediation. I like that," she said. "It's another opportunity for me to see if we can find paths for Minnesota's energy and telecommunication future that will work well for people."

Heydinger will begin her new duties as chair on July 2.