Commissioner Kristie Fiegen was elected chairperson of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission by her fellow commissioners at the PUC’s regular meeting in Pierre on Jan. 5, 2023. Commissioner Gary Hanson was elected vice chairman. The third member of the panel is Commissioner Chris Nelson.
Fiegen was appointed to the PUC in August 2011 by Gov. Dennis Daugaard to fill a vacancy. She was elected to a six-year term in November 2012 and re-elected to a second term in November 2018.
In his nominating remarks, Nelson praised Fiegen’s national leadership and described how those efforts benefit the people of South Dakota. “Commissioner Fiegen is committed to not only leadership within the state, but also to leadership within her fellow commissioners’ group within the Southwest Power Pool regional transmission organization. Over the last few years she has spent an immense amount of time focusing on the reliability of the electric grid. As the grid changes, reliability becomes more of a question and becomes more of a focus for this commission as well. Having Commissioner Fiegen at the helm while we work in this area is very appropriate,” said Nelson
Fiegen’s involvement in SPP includes serving as the immediate past president of the Regional State Committee and current chairperson the Regional Allocation Review Task Force, the Improved Resource Availability Task Force, and the RSC Nominating Committee. She is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Committee on Gas and Subcommittee on Pipeline Safety and provides guidance related to the interests of the public and gas consumers to the Gas Technology Institute as a member of the GTI’s Public Interest Advisory Committee.
Fiegen nominated Hanson for the role of vice chairman and expressed her gratitude for the experience he brings to the PUC. “Commissioner Hanson brings a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to this commission. He is passionate about serving the public and it is an honor to work beside him every single day,” stated Fiegen.
Hanson is currently serving his fourth, six-year term on the commission. South Dakota voters first elected him to the PUC in 2002 and re-elected the Sioux Falls native in 2008, 2014, and 2020. Hanson represents South Dakota on the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Committee on Electricity, is a board member of the Organization of MISO States and has held many additional leadership positions with other utility organizations.
“It is a privilege to be a part of this group. I think all three PUC commissioners enjoy serving the public and I’m look forward to continuing to serve South Dakotans alongside Commissioners Fiegen and Nelson,” Hanson commented.
Nelson was also appointed to the PUC in 2011 by Gov. Dennis Daugaard. He was elected to complete the remaining four years of that term in November 2012. He was re-elected to a full, six-year term in November 2016 and was again re-elected in 2022. He also represents South Dakota’s interests on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the Natural Regulatory Research Institute, as chairman of NARUC’s Broadband Expansion Task Force, co-chair of NARUC’s Washington Action Program and has been appointed to the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service by the Federal Communications Commission.
Prior to joining the PUC, all three commissioners had a long history of public service. Fiegen was president of Junior Achievement of South Dakota for 17 years and served four terms in the South Dakota House of Representatives. Hanson served two terms as mayor of Sioux Falls from 1994 to 2002 and served as a South Dakota state senator for three terms. Nelson held the position of state election supervisor for 13 years and uniform commercial code supervisor for two years within South Dakota’s secretary of state office before being elected to serve as South Dakota’s secretary of state from 2003 to 2011.