Regulatory agency gets new head

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker has decided to replace the head of the agency that sets rates for public utilities and pipeline carriers in Alaska.

Chairman T.W. Patch of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska said he was notified by Walker’s office on Dec. 31 that he will not be reappointed when his six-year term ends March 1, The Alaska Dispatch News reported.

Walker has selected Rebecca Pauli to take over the position in March. She has been a state administrative law judge since 2002 and previously worked as a private attorney representing telephone and electric utilities before the commission.

The commission will name a new chair after Pauli’s appointment.

“I have absolutely no agenda other than to do the job, and make appropriate decisions based on the facts presented,” said Pauli, 52, who claims to have no political connection.

Walker, in an emailed statement, did not expand upon his decision to appoint a new leader, except to say he felt it was time for a change.

Patch, a former U.S. Air Force judge advocate, was appointed by Republican Gov. Sean Parnell in 2010. He did not comment on the governor’s decision other than to confirm he had been notified by Walker’s office.

Patch is “taking steps to ensure there’s a smooth transition and I can get up to speed as quickly as possible,” Pauli said.

The five-member board sets power cost equalization rates and is often tasked with settling complicated rate disputes between powerful interests, including the in-state transportation rates for crude oil moved down the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline.

The commission had about 50 employees and a $9 million budget in 2015.