Gov. Mike Pence’s chief of staff, who will lose his job when Pence leaves office on Monday, is seeking to return to the five-member state commission that oversees utilities.
Jim Atterholt confirmed Thursday he has applied for an opening on the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, where he served from 2009 to 2014—the last four years as chairman.
During his previous term as chairman, Atterholt was given the job of cleaning up the commission following the messy tenure of his predecessor, David Lott Hardy.
Hardy was accused of failing to disclose several secret meetings with Duke Energy executives concerning cost overruns at the company’s Edwardsport plant and of helping the agency’s top lawyer break ethics laws. He was charged with four felony counts for official misconduct, but the charges were later dismissed.
The IURC is a powerful agency that regulates $14 billion worth of electric, natural gas, telecommunications, steam, water and sewer utilities. It approves utility projects and determines how much utilities can charge customers.
The commission has an opening due to the retirement of Chairwoman Carol Stephan, who stepped down Jan. 1 after 2-½ years.
“I have submitted my application to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Nominating Committee to fill the remainder of Carol's term,” Atterholt told IBJ in an email. “Governor-elect Holcomb will determine who will serve as chair of the commission.”
Prior to joining the IURC in 2009, Atterholt was the Indiana insurance commissioner for more than four years. He previously worked as director of government affairs for AT&T-Indiana and spent two terms as a Republican member of the Indiana House of Representatives
It’s unclear how much competition Atterholt will have in his bid to get his old job back. The process to fill openings on the IURC is cumbersome, with applicants required to submit letters of interest to a nominating committee, which selects candidates to interview and then recommends three finalists to the governor, who picks the winner.
The nominating committee has not yet released the names of other interested candidates.