Missouri utility regulator to step down as chairman

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 | 4:38 p.m. CST; updated 7:13 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 9, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — The chairman of Missouri's utility regulation board asked Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday to appoint someone new to lead the commission, saying he has completed the projects he set out to accomplish.

Public Service Commission Chairman Robert Clayton said the time seemed right for new leadership on the regulatory board, though he would like to remain a member.

"I completed my checklist of things that I wanted to accomplish," Clayton said. "I feel that I have exhausted the ideas and reforms that I thought needed to be brought here, and I felt it was a good time to step back."

Clayton said he had been considering stepping down as chairman for several months, though he believes there is still plenty of work to be done as a commission member. In his letter to Nixon, Clayton said the commission has worked to improve how it operates, communicates with the public and helps customers control their energy bills.

A spokesman for Nixon had no immediate comment Wednesday about Clayton's request.

The five-member Public Service Commission is responsible for regulating investor-owned electric, steam, natural gas, water, sewer and telephone companies in Missouri. The board's chairman is selected by the governor.

Clayton, a Democrat, was appointed to the commission in 2003 and named chairman by Nixon in January 2009. Before joining the panel, Clayton worked as an attorney in Hannibal. He also served four terms in the Missouri House starting in 1994, representing Marion and Shelby counties in northeastern Missouri.

Clayton said the regulatory board has addressed renewable energy and energy efficiency, toughened rules for communication between regulators and utilities and required utilities to help their customers be more knowledgeable about their bills. He said the board also has tried to improve the public's access to the commission by broadcasting and archiving its regular meetings, developing new policies for open records and retaining documents and reevaluating how local public hearings are conducted.


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