Gov. Tim Walz announced Friday that he has named Valerie Means to fill a vacancy on the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
Means is a mediator who previously worked as an attorney representing public utilities and telecommunications service providers. She is the first person of color to serve on the PUC in 30 years.
She will join the five-member commission charged with regulating the state's public utilities such as electric, natural gas and landline telephone service. The PUC has made several high-profile rulings in recent years, including approval of a controversial pipeline project in northern Minnesota.
“Valerie comes to the PUC with incredible qualifications and a deep understanding of public utilities from many perspectives. One thing is clear: she knows the real people behind the policy discussions that happen every day on the Commission, and she knows how to navigate this lesser-known arm of government fairly and effectively," Walz said in a statement.
Means will serve a six-year term and replaces PUC Chair Nancy Lange, who left the commission when her term ended in January. The governor named PUC member Katie Sieben as the new chair of the commission. Sieben served in the Minnesota Senate before joining the commission.
The PUC post was one of the final openings in the Walz administration. The governor is expected to appoint a new commissioner of IT services next week.
The Walz administration received 46 applications for the PUC post and had two finalists. The other finalist was Teresa Kittridge, President and COO of the Rural Policy Research Institute.
Correction (April 16, 2019): An earlier version of this story misspelled Katie Sieben's name. The story has been updated.