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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Public Utility Commission Chair To Step Down In May

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File photo of the Boardman Coal Plant in Boardman, Oregon.

The chair of the commission that regulates Oregon utilities says she won't seek appointment to another term and will step down in May. Susan Ackerman did not give a reason for her decision in a letter to Governor Kate Brown Friday.

The announcement comes soon after the governor signed an ambitious law that will phase out the use of coal power by Oregon's largest utilities.

The governor's office and the Oregon Public Utility Commission had what Ackerman characterized as "communications miscues" over the measure. Those came to light in emails obtained by the Oregonian, in which commission members complained about being left out of the process of developing the bill.

Ackerman did not directly respond to questions about why she's leaving the job, but a spokesman for the Public Utility Commission said he was not aware of any connection between the coal power legislation and Ackerman's decision to leave.

Ackerman, an attorney, has served under three governors, all Democrats. She was first appointed by Ted Kulongoski in 2010. Ackerman's current term ended this month. She had originally submitted her name to be considered for reappointment.

In her letter Friday to Brown, Ackerman said she will leave the Commission on May 20.

A spokeswoman for Brown said the governor is "grateful to Ackerman for her leadership at the PUC and her years of service to the people of Oregon."