Gov.-elect Peter Shumlin announced Tuesday that Elizabeth Miller will be his commissioner of the Department of Public Service.
Made at what he said would be his last transition press conference, the announcement laid to rest widespread speculation about who would lead the charge on the governor-elect’s renewable energy initiatives and go to bat for the administration on a myriad of legal issues against Entergy Corp., the Louisiana-based company that owns Vermont Yankee, the nuclear power plant in Vernon.
As commissioner, Miller will also oversee the deployment of Shumlin’s ambitious broadband initiative at a time when two utilities, Burlington Telecom and Fairpoint, are both in financial trouble.
Miller, a private attorney from Burlington, is not a utility expert, per se, though she has some experience litigating on behalf of independent power producers in federal court and administration actions in San Francisco.
Shumlin told reporters that he deliberately chose Miller because she has not worked as a utility lawyer. He said he hired Miller because she will be an advocate for Vermonters’ priorities, as opposed to the interests of utilities. He described her as “one of the most capable lawyers in the state.”
“It is not the job of the department to defend providers,” Shumlin said. “It is the job of the department to get the best possible deal for Vermonters.”
Miller, a graduate of Yale Law School, said she is a “serial expert” on legal issues.
From 1995-1996 she served as a law clerk in the private practice of the Honorable James L. Oakes, who was a circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the 1970s. In 1998, she launched a commercial litigation practice in Burlington.
Miller has served on the boards of the Vermont Alliance for Arts Education, Local Motion, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Chittenden County Bar Association and the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Her salary as commissioner of the Department of Public Service will be $96,000.