Topeka Mark Sievers, whose chairmanship of the Kansas Corporation Commission had been marked by several controversies, has resigned.
Sievers’ four-year term was set to expire on March 15, 2015. He will remain chairman until a replacement is appointed early next year, Gov. Sam Brownback announced today.
“It has been my honor to serve the citizens of Kansas and this governor,” Sievers said.
The three-member KCC regulates the electricity, natural gas, oil, telephone and transportation industries in the state.
“As I told the governor, my desire now is to return to private life and spend more time with my wife. I look forward to ensuring my replacement has a seamless transition as he or she joins the commission,” Sievers said in a statement.
Brownback, who appointed Sievers to the KCC, said, “I appreciate Mark’s service to me and to Kansas. I wish him the best with his well-deserved retirement.”
Last month, the KCC was found to have violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act and fined $500 for what was called “pink sheeting.” In this process, a KCC staff attorney would draft a proposed order and then take it to each commissioner for approval or modification. If a majority of commissioners approved it, the KCC would issue an interim order.
Also in November, in approving Westar Energy’s $30.7 million rate increase, Sievers said that the KCC might do away with cost allocation studies if proposed rate increases were less than 10 percent.
“Cost allocation is an imprecise art and not a science — littered with details, and there are times when it is not fruitful to engage in the work effort to do a full-blown cost allocation or rate design study,” he wrote.
Cost allocation was an issue in the Westar case because Westar had proposed larger increases for residential and small commercial customers than for big businesses.
Sievers had also hired Patti Petersen-Klein as executive director of the KCC. Earlier this year, Petersen-Klein was terminated after a consultant’s report cited employee resentment of Petersen-Klein’s "dictatorial" management style.
Sievers previously worked for Verizon Global Solutions, GTE, Sprint and Southwestern Bell. He also worked for the Utah Attorney General and California Department of Water Resources.