Few government officials will have a bigger say in how states transition from fossil fuels than public utility commissioners.

Yet, for the most part, these boards operate below the radar, rarely drawing the level of scrutiny faced by other agencies or officeholders.

Jared Heern wants to change that.

In an effort to draw more attention to the role of state utility commissions, Heern, a postdoctoral research associate at the Institute at Brown University for Environment and Society, recently assembled data on the more than 800 commissioners who served on public utility commissions across the country between 2000 and 2020. The results are laid out in a new study published in the journal Energy Research and Social Science.

“These proceedings can be very technical and opaque,” said Oliver Tully, director of utility innovation at the Acadia Center. “It can be challenging for groups who are already limited in terms of resources to participate meaningfully in proceedings where there is a lot of jargon and data to wade through.”

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