Candidates for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio sent to Governor DeWine by the Public Utilities Nominating Council on December 21, 2020
Angela Amos is a policy adviser at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the independent government agency regulating the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. She joined FERC as a financial analyst in the Office of Energy Market Regulation and now serves as policy adviser to FERC’s West Division, in the Office of Energy Market Regulation. Her duties include providing technical and legal advice to FERC Staff and Commissioner offices.
She is the only Democrat to have made the list of recommended candidates, and her background includes 15 years in the finance and energy industries.
Before joining FERC, her jobs included managing a Lehman Brothers energy trading desk and writing research reports on global coal and uranium markets. In her application, she noted past work for international firms where she analyzed how to apply business strategies to different (and sometimes conflicting) energy regulatory frameworks.
In doing her work, Amos says she often refers to the framework of ethics, economics, and the law that she studied in Leadership & Corporate Accountability as a first-year student at the Harvard Business School.
“Ethically, we have to be mindful when considering the right thing to do. From the legal perspective, FERC has to ensure our regulations will hold up in court—but those regulations also have to protect the markets, which brings in the economic lens. At the end of the day, the businesses that provide energy have to make money to survive. And customers need to pay, but the rate must be just and reasonable— provisions exist so citizens can get the energy they need to live,” she wrote in information provided with her application.
She has an undergraduate degree in Afro-American Studies and Government at Harvard, and an MBA from Harvard.
Judith French is ending her eight-year tenure as an Ohio Supreme Court Justice after losing her re-election bid in November. Ohio’s highest court has exclusive authority over appeals from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), which helps explain why Ohio-based utilities historically have given generously to Supreme Court justices, including Justice French.
Although justices run on a non-partisan ballot and are supposed to avoid even the appearance of any political bias, some Democrats criticized French for giving pro-Republican remarks while introducing then-Gov. John Kasich at a 2014 event. She even seemingly talked of “backstopping” Republican decisions she might rule on, reported the Columbus Dispatch.
“I am a Republican and you should vote for me,” she said. “You’re going to hear from your elected officials, and I see a lot of them in the crowd…. Let me tell you something, the Ohio Supreme Court is the backstop for all those other votes you are going to cast. Whatever the governor does, whatever your state representative, your state senator does, whatever they do, we are the ones that will decide whether it is constitutional, we decide whether it’s lawful. We decide what it means and we decide how to implement it in a given case. So, forget all those other votes if you don’t keep the Ohio Supreme Court conservative.”
In her application, she made a point of noting that she does not “hold stocks or bonds in any regulated utility.’’
In December 2012, Gov. Kasich appointed French to fill a vacancy on the Ohio Supreme Court. Her resume also includes eight years on the 10th district Court of appeals, legal counsel to Gov. Bob Taft, a stint as Section Chief for the Ohio Attorney General and deputy director of legal affairs for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Her PUCO job application highlighted her past work with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA).
French has a history of receiving campaign contributions from utilities – including ones involved in the FBI’s on-going bribery investigation into the nuclear bailout bill.
During her re-election campaign, a dark money group produced and aired a misleading TV commercial critical of French’s opponent, Jennifer Brunner. The group received money from Ohio-based bailout beneficiaries FirstEnergy ($135,000), AEP ($71,746) and Wayne Boich ($10,000), according to a Common Cause analysis. Boich chairs an Ohio coal company that supplies the utilities. He helped provide money used to open bank accounts for a separate dark money non-profit at the center of the bailout scandal, the Dispatch reported. Boich Company spokesman Mike Dawson is married to DeWine Chief of Staff Laurel Dawson.
The anti-Brunner ads were paid for by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLPC). GOP strategist Karl Rove sits on its board and also wrote a fundraising letter for French.
French has a bachelor’s degree, master’s in history and a law degree from The Ohio State University.
Ann Vogel served as assistant policy director for energy and natural resources for Gov. Mike DeWine and she said her policy areas include both natural resources and energy. In her application for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) opening she wrote, “I work closely with the many stakeholders across the state of Ohio and nationally on energy policy matters.’’
Her application does not state her views on the nuclear bailout law, but she served as DeWine’s energy adviser at the time that he appointed Sam Randazzo to serve as PUCO chair and as the bailout bill (House Bill 6) was debated and signed into law by the governor.
Vogel disclosed stock ownership in AEP and FirstEnergy in her financial disclosure or ethics filing for the year 2019. At the same time, she was registered as a lobbyist for the governor on House Bill 6.
She is among two Republicans nominated to fill the vacancy.
Prior to joining Governor DeWine’s staff, she worked for American Electric Power (AEP), the Columbus-based electric utility that stands to benefit from the bailout. Her resume shows that she held a variety of legal and regulatory roles for AEP, ending her tenure as Managing Director, Federal Government Affairs for its Washington, DC office.
Vogel has an MBA from The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, a law degree from Capital University Law School in Columbus, and a bachelor’s degree from Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC.
Greg Poulos – a political Independent – is the only finalist for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio opening with a history of working both for the state agency that advocates for residential utility customers and for a company that helps businesses access clean energy solutions.
Since 2017, he has been Executive Director of the Consumer Advocates of the PJM States , a non-profit organization whose members represent over 61-million consumers in the 13 PJM states and the District of Columbia. PJMs coordinates the transmission of of wholesale electricity and the Consumer Advocates of the PJM States (CAPS) describe their work as “necessary to ensure that consumers’ voices are heard.’’
Poulos previously served as Director of Regulatory affairs for EnerNOC. Rebranded as Enel X, the company says it helps companies “provide integrated, sustainable energy solutions to optimize and monetize their energy use.‘’
From 2007-2012, Poulos was the assistant Consumers’ Counsel where he served as the lead for comprehensive retail utility litigation before the PUCO. He oversaw everything from complex policy issues to settlement negotiations. The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) is the statewide agency that advocates for consumers in proceedings before the PUCO. From 1999-2007, he worked in various capacities for the Ohio Attorney General, including stints in the charitable and environmental enforcement sections.
In his application, Poulos markets himself as a bridge-builder. “Throughout my career in the energy industry, relationship and consensus building has been a strength of mine and an aspect of the job I enjoy the most,’’ he wrote.
He has a bachelor’s degree from Miami University and a law degree from The Ohio State University.