The Bulletin Board

Executive Council approves Goldner for utilities commission

By: - May 5, 2021 11:58 am
Power lines with trees in the background

The utilities are still facing a Dec. 15 deadline to submit revised energy efficiency plans, based on the diminished funding levels announced in November. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

Daniel Goldner will join the Public Utilities Commission as its newest commissioner after a 4-1 Executive Council vote Wednesday confirming his nomination.

Councilor Cinde Warmington opposed the nomination, citing Goldner’s lack of relevant experience and knowledge. Goldner has worked at Texas Instruments, a company that makes semiconductors, for the past 33 years.

“When I questioned Mr. Goldner on topics such as energy efficiency, distributed energy, clean transportation technology, he was unable to answer any questions,” Warmington said during the Executive Council meeting Wednesday.

Warmington had advised Goldner prior to the April 21 public hearing that she would ask him about those topics, she told the New Hampshire Bulletin.

“This wasn’t a pop quiz,” she said. “I told him exactly the topics I was interested in knowing more about.”

“I was honestly pretty shocked at his lack of knowledge in those areas and that he certainly wasn’t prepared to answer those questions,” she said in an interview. She said the questions she asked were “pretty basic” and called Goldner’s nomination disturbing.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party blasted Goldner’s nomination and called him a climate-change denier in a press release distributed after the April 21 hearing. In the hearing, Goldner repeated a common talking point among climate-change deniers, linking changes in temperature to “the earth’s natural cycle.”  

“He doesn’t seem to attribute the acceleration in climate change to any man-made activity,” Warmington said.

Councilor Joseph Kenney spoke in support of the nomination at Wednesday’s meeting. Kenney said he “took Dan on the road a little bit to visit various constituencies across my district, and they were very satisfied with the answers he gave with regards to energy policy and other matters on PUC.”

Kenney pointed to Goldner’s background as a mechanical engineer and in finance, which he said would help him understand parts of the utilities commission’s work, such as rate setting. Goldner is now enrolled in an energy policy seminar at Dartmouth, Kenney said.

“One of the things that I’ve stressed in state services, it’s not what you know but what you’re capable of learning,” Kenney said. “He’s going to catch up. He’s enthusiastic.”

Gov. Chris Sununu called Goldner an “outside-the-box thinker.”

“His keen attention to customer service will be an asset to the PUC,” Sununu said in a written statement.

A normal term for the commissioner position at the utilities commission is six years, but Goldner will serve only two years, completing the term of previous commissioner Michael Giaimo, who left after four years. The position has been vacant since last October. With only two commissioners serving in the interim, there have been concerns about dockets getting held up due to a potential impasse between the two commissioners.  

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s energy and environment reporter. She previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.