Former Ohio legislator Johnson named PUCO chairman

Source: Columbus Business First

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has a new chairman.

Tom Johnson, a former 22-year Ohio State representative and current president of a consulting firm, was chosen by Ohio Gov.John Kasich to head the state’s regulatory agency.

Johnson will replace Todd Snitchler, also a former state representative, who said last month that he would not seek reappointment to the seat Kasich had appointed him to in 2011. Snitchler will leave the PUCO April 10.

Johnson, a Republican, will serve a five-year term beginning April 11. He joins four other commissioners. The PUCO regulates all of the utility service providers in Ohio, and in recent years has tackled the de-regulation of the electricity and natural gas markets.

Johnson was one of four finalists selected by the PUCO’s nominating council in late January.

In the state legislature from 1977 to 1999, he represented parts of Athens, Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum and Washington counties. Johnson served as chairman of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee, and sat on the House Utilities Committee and the House Energy and Environment Committee.

After leaving the Ohio General Assembly, Johnson became budget director under Gov. Bob Taft for the Office of Budget and Management for seven years. In 2006, he joined Ohio State University to teach public budgeting to graduate students at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. He was named interim university treasurer, and in 2011 became the assistant vice president of financial services for the school.

Today, Johnson is president of the Columbus lobbying firm Ohio Strategic Advocacy Partners, which “offers a broad range of consulting to assist in advancing clients objectives. We have the experience needed to deal with all levels of government.”

Johnson’s term as chairman will expire April 10, 2019, pending approval by the state Senate.

Snitchler told me last week that he is still unsure of what his next job will be. Snitchler wouldn’t divulge much when pressed about what advice he would give to his replacement, but did say that he would be happy to have a cup of coffee with him to ease the transition.

Johnson should continue Snitchler’s newsworthy run as electricity and natural gas deregulation continues ramping up and intrastate natural-gas pipelines pop up more with increased drilling in eastern Ohio.