The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2016, which is Women’s History Month.
As part of the series we interviewed Nancy Lange, Vice Chair of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more!
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?
I was appointed to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) by Governor Mark Dayton in 2013. The commission is the state agency responsible for the regulation of Minnesota electric, gas, and telecom industries.
How did you get into this work?
I put my name into the open appointments process for consideration by the Governor because I understand how important the work of the PUC is to all Minnesotans. Our decisions have wide reaching consequences in people’s’ lives—their pocketbooks, maybe their property or business, and certainly the implementation of the many energy policies that govern Minnesota’s energy utilities.
What is a typical day like for you?
Lots and lots of reading! The commission makes decisions based on the record evidence in each docket matter. In big, complicated dockets the record is vast and understanding the positions of the various parties and how these positions comport with statutes takes time to read and understand. As commissioners we also meet individually with staff to discuss their analysis of the record and consider different approaches to making a decision.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part of my job is that I have the opportunity to make decisions that are in the public interest for Minnesotans. It’s a tremendous responsibility given the outcomes that can result from our decisions. The hardest part of my job is that these decisions are not always easy or clear cut. There are competing interests that must be considered and weighed, always keeping in mind what outcomes best serve the public interest. And you must make decisions that are based on the record that is in front of the commission. If information is not in the record, it can’t be relied upon to form a decision.
What about your job inspires you?
As is often the case, the people I work with inspire me. The thoughtful analysis that commission staff bring to dockets and their extensive experience is essential component of the regulatory process. My fellow commissioners each bring a unique perspective to their review and decision making, and I benefit from that during our hearings and open deliberations. Our collective work is better because it results from the experience of many different individuals all focused on making wise decisions for Minnesota.
What advice do you have for women who are thinking about working in energy?
It’s a very dynamic time in the energy industry and the changes that are underway will continue to shape the utility sector for many years to come. So it’s a stimulating time to be working in this field, whether it is at a utility, for government, or at another private interest or nonprofit. While the regulatory process can be daunting, it is worthwhile to engage in issues before the PUC. Our decisions are better informed when we have robust participation from many different perspectives.
Nancy Lange was appointed to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission by Governor Mark Dayton, effective March 4, 2013 and currently serves as Vice Chair.
Commissioner Lange is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and is Co-Vice Chair of its Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment. She also serves on the NARUC Committee on Washington Action. Commissioner Lange is a member of the Midcontinent States Environmental and Energy Regulators (MSEER) group and currently serves as its Co-Chair. She also serves as a member of the Mid-America Regulatory Conference (MARC).
Prior to her appointment, Commissioner Lange served as Manager of Policy and Engagement at the Center for Energy and Environment. From 1992 through 2012, Ms. Lange held positions in the Energy Program at the Izaak Walton League of America’s Midwest Office, most recently as Director. Ms. Lange has authored numerous publications and reports including Season’s End and Beyond Season’s End: A Path Forward for Fish and Wildlife in an Era of Climate Change, with the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Ms. Lange holds a B.S. from Iowa State University and M.A. in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota. Her term will expire on January 7, 2019.
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|About the Author: Kathleen McGee is a freelance writer and content strategist for environmental organizations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.|
The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries during Women’s History Month.