O’Malley names two alternative-energy allies to utilities panel

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) elevated two staff members Wednesday to seats on the Public Service Commission, a powerful panel that regulates the state’s utilities and is key to advancement of the governor’s alternative-energy agenda.

O’Malley picked Kevin Hughes, a member of his lobbying shop, and Kelly Speakes-Bachman, who has served as the Clean Energy Director at the Maryland Energy Administration, for the two spots.

Hughes, O’Malley’s deputy legislative officer since 2007, has held similar positions in two prior Democratic administrations. His work for O’Malley has included energy policy, most notably a bill to jump-start the state’s offshore wind energy that failed this year despite intense lobbying by the governor.

Hughes takes the spot on the PSC held by Susanne Brogan, whom O’Malley chose not to appoint to another five-year term. She is now deputy treasurer of public policy for Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D).

Speakes-Bachman spent 20 years in the private sector, working in energy, sustainability, renewable energy and environmental business strategies across the nation, according to O’Malley’s office. She was also active on the wind bill in the previous session.

Speakes-Backman was appointed to finish the term of PSC Commissioner Therese Goldsmith, who was recently named Maryland’s insurance commissioner.

O’Malley has vowed to bring back his wind-energy bill next year. Should the legislature pass it, the PSC would play a key role in crafting contracts with wind energy companies to implement it.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.

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