Fredrick H. Hoover, the new chair of the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC), vowed to follow the lead of the man who appointed him, Gov. Wes Moore (D), and “leave no Marylander behind” as he takes over a powerful regulatory agency that will increasingly have more say over how the state confronts climate change.

Hoover spoke Wednesday following a brief swearing-in ceremony at the Anne Arundel County Circuit Courthouse in Annapolis. Anne Arundel County Clerk of the Court Scott Poyer administered the oath of office.

Maryland Public Service Commission Chair Frederick H. Hoover. Credit: Bryan P. Sears

Hoover, a veteran government lawyer who has long worked in the energy space, takes the reins of a reconstituted five-member commission that regulates gas and electric utilities, some water companies and telecommunications firms, and certain transportation services. Environmentalists and some consumer advocates have complained in recent years that the PSC hasn’t been proactive enough about addressing climate change or clearing the way for renewable energy sources to be used more widely in the state. Hoover, 65, signaled that he hoped the commission would change course.

“I take Gov. Moore’s commitment to address climate change as a personal commitment for me,” he said, adding that he sees ensuring that energy and utility policy help all Marylanders “as a responsibility for the PSC.”

Hoover, who served most recently as an attorney for the Office of People’s Counsel, the state agency that represents consumers’ interests on utility matters, has also been director of the Maryland Energy Administration and has served in other government roles. His five-year term began on July 1, and he’ll replace Jason M. Stanek, whose five-year term ended a day earlier. Stanek, an appointee of former Gov. Larry Hogan (R), previously served as a Republican counsel to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill.

Tisha Edwards, Moore’s Appointments secretary, said she and former PSC Chair H. Russell Frisby Jr., who helped her vet and interview candidates for the commission, were instantly impressed by Hoover.

“Fred didn’t say, ‘I want to be chair.’ Fred said, ‘I want to be on the commission,’” Edwards recounted. “As soon as we finished our interview, Russ said, ‘I think we’ve found our chair.’”

Moore has made three appointments to the PSC in recent months; veteran legislator Kumar P. Barve and Bonnie Suchman, an attorney and former U.S. Department of Energy official have also joined the commission over the past few weeks. Both will need to be confirmed by the state Senate when the General Assembly reconvenes next year.

Another Moore nominee to the PSC, Juan Alvarado, withdrew earlier this year following criticism from environmental groups and certain lawmakers because he worked in the natural gas industry.

Two Hogan holdovers, Michael Richard, who served as Hogan’s deputy chief of staff and headed the Maryland Energy Administration under former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R), and Anthony O’Donnell, a former House minority leader, retain their seats. Their terms end in 2025 and 2026, respectively.

In a statement released last week, Stanek summed up his tenure as PSC chair.

“I am proud that the Commission has accomplished so much over the past five years by embracing innovative ratemaking practices, promoting retail energy competition, and advancing the state’s aggressive clean energy policies,” he said. “By aligning the interests of customers with those of the investment community, we have achieved best-in-class grid reliability, spurred investment in energy battery storage, and supported the development of solar and offshore wind development, all while keeping utility bills affordable.

“I am particularly proud of the PSC’s efforts to advance electric vehicle adoption by supporting the build-out of a statewide public charing network — now one of the best in the nation. However, none of these achievements would have been made without the hard work ad dedication of the talented and professional staff of the Public Service Commission, individuals who work tirelessly to serve the best interests of all Marylanders each and every day.”

Stanek also observed: “While once relatively obscure, the PSC is now key to unlocking many of the state’s current policies.”

That’s certainly the view of the Moore administration — and the man they’ve put in charge of the agency.

Edwards said the size of the crowd witnessing Hoover’s swearing-in — about 50 lawyers, energy policy experts, environmentalists, lawmakers and other government veterans — was a testament to the importance of the PSC’s mission and the impact it has on policy and people.

“A lot of times we’re in our office and we forget about all the people who care about the work and the people doing the work,” she said.

Hoover, addressing his new PSC colleagues, said, “Fasten your seat belts, you’re along for an exciting journey.”

This article was originally published on and is republished with permission.

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