Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority Vice Chairman John (Jack) Betkoski III marked the completion of his term as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners on a high note for the organization. Under his 15-month leadership, NARUC passed decisive resolutions, updated its constitution, appointed committee chairs and board members and convened several highly successful national meetings.
Betkoski assumed his leadership in August 2017 when then-president Robert F. Powelson, current president and CEO of the National Association of Water Companies, was tapped to become a commissioner for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. After serving out Powelson’s term, Betkoski was installed for his full one-year term as NARUC’s president three months later at the NARUC Annual Meeting and Education Conference in Baltimore, Md.
His theme, Powered Together: Tapping the Water-Energy Nexus, addressed the symbiosis between the two utility sectors and also recognized the role of telecommunications in the relationship. That theme was a common thread across several meetings over the course of all of NARUC’s national meetings throughout the year, which include the Winter Policy Summit (February), the Summer Policy Summit (July) and the Annual Meeting and Education Conference (November). Nationally recognized speakers included federal agency heads, representatives from Congress, industry experts and respected researchers, such as Michael E. Webber, PhD, author of Thirst for Power: Water, Energy, and Human Survival.
Because of his focus on water and energy issues, he received the NAWC Water Droplet award, given to individuals who “have made exceptional contributions to the industry and whose life work has been dedicated to ensuring access to safe, reliable and affordable water service.”
During his tenure, he served as chairman of the International Confederation of Energy Regulators, which is an organization comprised of energy regulators from around the globe. He continues to serve on the editorial board for The ICER Chronicle, a research journal published twice a year.
Betkoski was able to successfully balance the demands of being an active regulator and member of other organizations, such as the New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners, with the responsibilities as the head of a national association that represents the interests of state utility regulators across the country. Often called upon by the media to articulate the concerns of regulators, he was quoted in trade press; national news publications, including The Wall Street Journal; and was featured in Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy podcast.
Internationally, he has represented NARUC at the Canadian Association of Members of Public Utility Tribunals and the World Forum on Energy Regulation. Along with regional regulatory meetings, Betkoski participated in a number of conferences as a keynote speaker, panelist or moderator, including GridConnext, the World Gas Conference, Wall Street Dialogue and the Financial Research Institute Symposium. He also moderated a panel of state regulators at the first-ever utility career summit focused on bringing more diversity and inclusion to utility professions, hosted by the Mississippi Public Service Commission.
An essential aspect of NARUC’s mission is advocacy. NARUC’s board of directors this year passed several important resolutions, which covered areas such as energy storage, infrastructure modernization, water and wastewater, telecommunications and nuclear waste. Also, he has signed letters to the White House urging consideration of state regulators for federal agency posts, spreading awareness of water issues and outlining key funding priorities. He has issued statements marking inaction on nuclear waste, advocating reform for the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 and commenting on federal rulemakings on grid resiliency.
“Vice Chairman Betkoski has served NARUC well as an excellent and thoughtful leader,” said NARUC Executive Director Greg R. White. “His years of experience as both a regulator and an engaged member of NARUC were quite evident by his ability to work with our many members across various issues and achieve consensus when most needed. We are grateful for his service as our president and I am pleased to continue working with him on our Executive Committee.”
Betkoski noted in his remarks at the 2018 Annual Meeting that NARUC modeled civility at a time when it is often absent in public discourse and within government.
“It has truly been a privilege to serve as the president of NARUC,” said Betkoski. “The work performed by state regulators is challenging, to say the least. However, we are doing the work that needs to be done and even if we are poles apart on certain issues, we know how to come together to serve the public interest. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with NARUC’s leadership, members and stakeholders.”
Betkoski’s successor is Nick Wagner of the Iowa Utilities Board.
NARUC is a non-profit organization founded in 1889 whose members include the governmental agencies that are engaged in the regulation of utilities and carriers in the fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. NARUC's member agencies regulate telecommunications, energy, and water utilities. NARUC represents the interests of state public utility commissions before the three branches of the federal government.