CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The new chairperson of the state Public Service Commission says in all the jobs and positions she’s held over a her long career she enjoyed her time on the PSC the best.
“I love the work and the people at the PSC and the impact that it has on the public in West Virginia is enormous and I take that responsibility very seriously,” Charlotte Lane told MetroNews as she’s set to begin a second stint as PSC chair.
Lane, an attorney, who served as PSC chair from 1997-2001 under then-Gov. Cecil Underwood, replaces longtime PSC Chairman Mike Albert whose term ended Sunday. Albert’s been a member of the PSC for 12 years. Lane also served six additional years on the PSC as a commissioner.
“I’m very excited and grateful the governor (Gov. Jim Justice) was willing to give me the opportunity,” Lane said. “I’ve been there before so I can hit the ground running.”
Lane joins PSC commissioners Brooks McCabe and Renee Larrick on the three-member panel. She said she’s already spoken with those she’ll be serving with.
“I know everything is in good shape as far as the cases go,” she said.
Lane said being on the PSC is a balancing act. She said when it comes to rate cases, utilities are due what it costs them to produce energy and water but it has to be done with the consumer in mind.
“When we look at rates we have to make sure that everybody is treated fairly,” Lane said. “It is a big balancing act but with good advice it’s something the Public Service Commission has been able to do over the years. I just consider myself a neutral person trying to balance all of the interests.”
Lane, a Republican, has also served stints as U.S. Attorney and as a member of the United States International Trade Commission. Most recently Lane served a two-year term, 2017-2019, in the House of Delegates representing Kanawha County’s 35th Delegate District. She was also in the House for short periods of time in the 1970’s and 1990’s.
She said she hopes to strengthen the relationship between the PSC and the legislature.
“The legislature oftentimes doesn’t really understand all the Public Service Commission does. I hope to work with them so they will have a better understanding of what we do,” she said.
One of those issues addressed with the legislature will likely be the concern about turnover and vacancies at the PSC caused by low pay. A recent legislative audit highlighted the open jobs at the commission.
“It’s important that our people at the PSC are paid fairly and we want to pay them enough to keep them,” she said.