PSC seat: Dalrymple appoints Fedorchak to N.D. Public Service CommissionA top aide to North Dakota U.S. Sen. John Hoeven was appointed to the state Public Service Commission on Friday, a regulatory job that oversees the state’s booming energy industry. Julie Fedorchak will succeed Republican Kevin Cramer on Jan. 2. Cramer was elected to the U.S. House this month, and he is resigning his commission seat at year’s end.
By: By Dale Wetzel, Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — A top aide to North Dakota U.S. Sen. John Hoeven was appointed to the state Public Service Commission on Friday, a regulatory job that oversees the state’s booming energy industry.
Julie Fedorchak will succeed Republican Kevin Cramer on Jan. 2. Cramer was elected to the U.S. House this month, and he is resigning his commission seat at year’s end.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple announced the appointment Friday at a state Capitol news conference.
Fedorchak, 44, is the North Dakota state director on Hoeven’s staff. She said she is stepping down from that position Dec. 14. There are four years left on Cramer’s term, but Fedorchak will have to run for election in 2014 to finish serving it out.
“I’ve worked in public policy and in the private sector for 20 years. I have a pretty solid understanding of the energy sector, which is a big part of the Public Service Commission,” Fedorchak said Friday. “I’m comfortable that I have a good foundation to build on a career as a regulator for that industry.”
The three-member commission regulates coal mining, land reclamation, pipelines, electric and gas utilities, grain elevators, telecommunications and auctioneers. A great deal of its recent workload has involved determining locations for oil and natural gas pipelines, natural gas processing factories and wind energy projects.
The agency has more than 40 employees and a two-year budget of $19.1 million. Commissioners are elected for six-year terms and are paid $95,611 annually.
Fedorchak was a spokeswoman for former GOP Gov. Ed Schafer in the 1990s, and ran a consulting business for a decade after that, doing communications and lobbying work for state agencies, private companies and nonprofits.
Fedorchak joined Hoeven’s staff as its North Dakota deputy director in January 2011, after the new GOP senator took office. She was promoted to director after her predecessor, Shane Goettle, resigned to make an unsuccessful bid for the GOP endorsement to run for the U.S. House.
She decided against seeking a PSC appointment early this year after President Barack Obama nominated the commission’s Republican chairman, Tony Clark, for an opening on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Dalrymple instead chose Bonny Fetch, a state administrative law judge, to finish Clark’s term. Fetch will be replaced in January by Hazen GOP state Sen. Randy Christmann, the assistant majority leader in the North Dakota Senate, who was elected to the job in November.
“I think Tony Clark put it this way: ‘Listen, learn, ask good questions and make a decision,’” Fedorchak said. “And those are all things I feel very comfortable doing.”
Cramer praised Fedorchak, who is the second woman to serve on the regulatory board, as “the perfect choice, and she’ll dramatically increase the value of the commission by replacing me.”
“One of the greatest assets Julie has ... is that she’s full of common sense and applies it very well. But she’s also intellectually curious and thoughtful,” Cramer said.
Fedorchak’s family has long been active in Republican politics. Her father, Duane Liffrig, served as North Dakota highway commissioner in the early 1980s. In 2004, brother Mike Liffrig ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate. Both attended Friday’s announcement.
“I think she can handle it,” Duane Liffrig said. “Probably better than I could at this point ... They couldn’t have found anybody better, I don’t think, for that job.”