TALLAHASSEE — The Public Service Commission on Monday named a staff veteran, Tim Devlin, to be its new executive director and steer the agency into an era of reform.
Devlin, 58, an accountant, has been at the PSC since 1976. Since 2000, he has been director of the Division of Economic Regulation, which monitors utilities' finances.
Devlin, who will be paid $125,000, is replacing Mary Andrews Bane, who retired in December.
The commission met to discuss its proposed legislation to tighten communications between its staff members and utilities. The panel handed Devlin his first assignment: make sure that commission staff members "insulate'' themselves from discussing pending cases with utilities unless the discussion is open and on the record.
The commission recommended that its staff members be banned from "ex parte'' discussion with utilities about issues before the PSC.
"That's going to be the No. 1 priority for the next few months," Devlin said.
The commission was rocked last fall by charges that staff members for the commissioners had become too close to the officials for utilities during rate cases for Florida Power & Light, Progress Energy and Tampa Electric.
Devlin said he does not believe that the regulatory staff members have been influenced by utility officials.
He told the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald that he frowns on PSC staff members socializing with utility representatives.
"It's not acceptable to me to have lunch with someone with a utility because it's a perception issue," he said. "It could have a compromising effect on you, so you don't do it."
Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@MiamiHerald.com