Bar News - November 3, 2006
Public Sector Law Shifting Roles for PUC Attorneys
By: Beverly Rorick
Meredith A. Hatfield was confirmed as the state’s new Consumer Advocate by Gov. John Lynch and the Executive Council on Sept. 27. She has already stepped into the position recently held by F. Anne Ross at the Office of the Consumer Advocate in Concord, an independent state agency administratively attached to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
Meridith A. Hatfield , State Consumer Advocate, left, and F. Anne Ross, DIrector of the Legal Division for the NH Public Utilities Commision.
Ross, whose term would not have been over until Nov. 5, 2007, has become director of the PUC’s Legal Division. “It seemed a natural step, based on my experience in a related area—although I leave the consumer realm with mixed feelings,” said Ross.
In her new role, Ross will be responsible for supervising PUC legal staff and will develop training for legal staff and technical witnesses as well as training in administrative opinion writing. In addition, she will be a “working lawyer” handling some PUC dockets herself.
“I am the ‘go-to person’ on litigation issues, now,” said Ross. “If a lawyer must interface with the Commission, I am there to help.” Ross has been a NH Bar member since 1985.
As Consumer Advocate, Hatfield will represent the interests of residential utility consumers, although not on an individual basis. “We will continue to focus on rates, service quality, energy efficiency, low-income assistance and other issues of importance to consumers,” she said. “There continue to be many interesting policy questions related to utilities and we look forward to working on them with other stakeholders.”
Hatfield served state government from Nov. 2000-Nov. 2002 as public policy director for the Governor’s Office of Energy and Community Services. She has most recently worked as an associate attorney in the Energy Practice Group at Pierce Atwood in Concord. Hatfield has been a member of the NH Bar since 1999.