PUC’s Diamond resigns

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AUGUSTA (AP) – A member of Maine’s three-person Public Utilities Commission is stepping down, giving Gov. John Baldacci an opportunity to put forth a third nominee for the panel.

Stephen Diamond, a PUC commissioner since October 1998, submitted his resignation Wednesday to Baldacci, effective June 30, officials said.

Diamond’s current term would expire on March 31, 2007. A commission statement Thursday said he is leaving to take a part-time position with the Maine Office of Securities and to pursue other interests.

“My retirement is driven by the failure of medical science to arrest the aging process, prompting a concern that if I wait much longer to pursue other interests, I may discover that I have waited too long,” Diamond wrote in a letter to Baldacci.

“More specifically, I had already decided not to seek another term on the PUC, but rather to look for a part-time position when my current term ended. Although my intent was to make this transition next spring, a part-time position that I believe to be ideal for me recently opened in the Office of Securities, where I previously worked for more than 11 years.

“Somewhat reluctantly, because I fully expected to complete my current term, I decided that it would be a mistake not to pursue that opportunity,” Diamond wrote.

Diamond, 62, lives in Gardiner.

“It has been an honor to serve with as skilled and principled a commissioner as Steve Diamond,” PUC Commissioner Kurt Adams said.

“Steve’s deliberative manner and thorough analysis of complex issues have made him invaluable in this time of transition,” said Commissioner Sharon Reishus.

Officials noted that Diamond’s tenure was marked by a legislative restructuring of the electricity industry and federal law changes fostering competition in the telecommunications industry.

State lawmakers, meanwhile, gave the commission responsibilities for underground facility damage prevention (Dig Safe), electricity conservation programs (Efficiency Maine), and oversight of the E-911 Bureau, the PUC statement said.

Diamond was appointed by Gov. Angus King in 1998 to serve the unexpired term of Commissioner Heather Hunt and in 2001 was reappointed to a full six-year term by King.

Before joining the commission, Diamond served as legislative director and legislative counsel for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

He was also an administrator of the Maine Securities Division, an assistant U.S. attorney, and a deputy attorney general in Maine.

Adams, who had been chief legal counsel to Baldacci, was confirmed for a post on the commission by the state Senate in May 2005.

As chairman, Adams succeeded Thomas Welch, who had served two terms.

Reishus was selected by Baldacci for a PUC post in 2003 and replaced William Nugent. A former intelligence officer for the Central Intelligence Agency who also worked as a commission analyst and private sector consultant, Reishus served for a time as acting chairman last year.

Diamond, in his letter to Baldacci, raised the issue of his successor.

“While I am certain you will not lack for advice concerning my replacement, I hope you will not consider it presumptuous if I offer my two cents, at least with respect to where you might look,” Diamond wrote to the governor.

“In my view, the PUC is blessed with an extremely capable and hard working staff, some of whom have the maturity, judgment, and temperament to be excellent commissioners. I am taking the liberty of suggesting some specific names to Kurt,” Diamond wrote.

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