Baldacci taps aide for advocate’s post

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AUGUSTA (AP) – Gov. John Baldacci announced the nomination of senior aide Richard Davies for the position of public advocate Thursday, saying 20-year incumbent Stephen Ward would step down to join the Department of Environmental Protection.

Davies served in the Maine House of Representatives for eight years, from 1974 to 1982.

Since then, prior to joining the Baldacci administration four years ago, he has worked as an aide to Gov. Joseph Brennan, as an official at the Maine State Housing Authority and as a consultant and lobbyist.

The Cabinet-level office of public advocate represents the interests of ratepayers on issues and cases within the jurisdiction of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

“Dick Davies has served Maine for more than thirty years with great distinction,” Baldacci said in a statement. “He has provided an outstanding level of service and dedication to the state in the past four years as a top level staffer in my office.

“Dick has been my chief liaison on policy and agency matters regarding public utilities and energy,” Baldacci said. “In particular, I have relied on his extensive knowledge and experience in the areas of energy and utility issues impacting Maine citizens. His unique expertise will be invaluable in this new position.”

Davies’ nomination will be reviewed by the Legislature’s Utilities and Energy Committee and is subject to Senate confirmation.

The governor’s statement said Ward would join the DEP’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative team and be involved in program design and the legislative and rulemaking process.

“Steve has been an exceptional advocate for the citizens of Maine,” Baldacci said. “I am pleased that he will continue to serve the state at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, as we move RGGI forward on an ambitious track. Steve’s vast experience with the electrical industry and utility issues will be invaluable as he takes on this new role.”

In the same statement, the Department of Environmental Protection announced the hiring of Suzanne Watson, who has served as Topsham’s economic and community development director and senior policy adviser for Northeastern States for Coordinated Air Management, as director of Innovation and Technical Assistance.

As governor, Baldacci has already reconstituted the Public Utilities Commission, successfully nominating new members to the three-person panel.

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