Hawaii Governor's Office: Governor Appoints Thomas Gorak to Public Utilities Commission

Gov. David Ige announced the appointment of attorney Thomas Gorak to the Public Utilities Commission. Since 2013, Gorak has worked closely with the PUC as its chief counsel, serving as chief legal and regulatory advisor.

Gorak has practiced law since 1977, specializing in public utility regulation at both the federal and state levels for the past 37 years. He previously worked on utility regulatory matters in Maryland and practiced law in Washington, D.C., where he provided client services that included analyzing and addressing their positions in public utility matters.

KHON News: HECO-NextEra in New Limbo as Governor Appoints PUC Lawyer to Commission

The biggest business deal in state history is in a new state of limbo as the governor makes a new appointment to the Public Utilities Commission that some are calling illegal and unethical.

The attorney general’s office says the appointment is valid.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: PUC Swap Pre-HECO Ruling May See a Fight

Hawaii Senate President Ron Kouchi (D, Kauai-Niihau) said Thursday he might challenge Gov. David Ige’s decision to appoint a new member to the Public Utilities Commission just days before the three-person panel was to decide whether to approve the sale of the state’s largest utility.

On Wednesday, Ige appointed Thomas Gorak, chief counsel for the PUC, to replace Michael Champley, whose term expired Thursday. Analysts said Gorak might be skeptical of NextEra Energy Inc.’s proposed $4.3 billion purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Ige’s Choice Is Sworn In as Dispute Grows Over Sudden Move     

Tom Gorak was sworn in Friday as an interim Public Utilities Commissioner, taking the place of Michael Champley, amid controversy over whether Gov. David Ige is trying to influence a major decision by the independent panel.

Champley, whose term expired Thursday, said he was “disappointed” in the governor’s decision to replace him while the Public Utilities Commission has yet to rule on the sale of the state’s largest electrical utility. [...] Champley said he found out about Gorak’s appointment during the governor’s news conference Wednesday.

Mina Morita's Energy Dynamics: Hawaii PUC Fiasco, an Unfortunate but Great Opportunity for a Civics Lesson

Though unfortunate, it's got drama, intrigue, complex characters, suspense, policy, law and order -- but it's not The West Wing (which I miss) but the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission's commissioner appointment process. Who would have thought this once obscure, little-understood agency steeped in its own esoteric language and proceedings is now in the national limelight with Wall Street and everyone else waiting with bated breath?

And though unfortunate, it is a great opportunity for a civics lesson to understand the separation of powers, the hierarchy of laws, the delegation of authority, the role of regulation, the making of policy and, ultimately, figuring out how far a state agency can intrude into a business transaction between two private parties under the guise of protecting the public interest and whether facts, logic, reason and the rule of law will prevail or succumb to an abuse of power.

Pacific Business News: Billionaire Warren Buffett’s Energy Company May Be Eyeing Hawaiian Electric

Billionaire Warren Buffett’s energy company may be showing some interest in possibly purchasing Hawaiian Electric Co. if state regulators don't approve NextEra Energy Inc.'s $4.3 billion acquisition of the Honolulu-based utility, Pacific Business News has learned.

MidAmerican Energy Services LLC, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company, was recently registered as a new business in Hawaii, according to public records.