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PSC executive director pressured to resign

TALLAHASSEE — The executive director of the Public Service Commission, hired by four consumer-friendly commissioners who were ousted last year, has been ousted himself.

Timothy Devlin, 59, resigned Monday at the request of PSC Chairman Art Graham. Devlin, a 35-year veteran of the agency that regulates utilities, has been in the job since Jan. 25, 2010.

During his short 16-month tenure, he made the unusual request of asking utility companies to report how many PSC employees they had hired and how much they were paying them. He was also at the agency, as head of the Division of Economic Regulation, when Florida Power & Light requested, but did not get a $1 billion rate increase.

The commission was expected to discuss Devlin's future during a PSC meeting today. Devlin chose not to wait for the discussion and submitted his resignation Monday, two years before he planned to retire.

"As the majority of the commission is in support of the chairman's request for my resignation, I am tendering my resignation effective close of business on July 1, 2011,'' Devlin wrote in a one-sentence letter to commissioners.

Graham's office offered no explanation as to why Devlin had been pressured to leave. Devlin also did not respond to requests for comment.

Last year, the Legislature purged the PSC of four appointees of then-Gov. Charlie Crist. Crist had appointed them because he thought legislators had become too close to the utilities they regulate.

Florida law requires the PSC staff to serve as independent advisers to commissioners, a sometimes adversarial role.

FPL is preparing to file another rate increase request in January. FPL officials did not respond to requests for comment.

A year ago, when Devlin asked the utility companies to report their hiring of former PSC employees, the goal was to determine whether there was an indirect cost to customers when utilities are able to buy access and insight into regulators. The utilities successfully fended off the request and haven't reported the information.

Devlin replaced former executive director Mary Bane, who had retired. Bane then applied for one of the open PSC commission seats but was rejected by the nominating council.

Devlin's personnel file includes no letters of reprimand and the last management performance review, conducted in 2006, lauded him for "excellent technical skills," "excellent conceptual skills," for doing an "excellent job managing the division budget" and for being "highly motivated and a leader."

He had previously served as director of economic regulation and director of auditing and financial analysis.

Former Commissioner Nathan Skop, who nominated Devlin to become executive director, blasted Graham's removal of him as "absolutely shameful." He called Devlin "a veteran of unquestionable integrity who is well respected by PSC staff."

Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@MiamiHerald.com.

PSC executive director pressured to resign 05/23/11 [Last modified: Monday, May 23, 2011 11:17pm]
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