The appointment of public service commissioners in the District, Maryland and Virginia has become increasingly controversial, partly because the nominations are political and knowledge of utility issues is not required.

Current area commissioners have diverse backgrounds, although in Virginia, all of the commissioners have had legal backgrounds since the 1970s.

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners provided the following information on the commission members.

The District of Columbia: Chairwoman Patricia M. Worthy has served on the commission since 1980. A 41-year-old Democrat, Worthy has a law degree from Howard University, has worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, taught at Howard, and chaired the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission.

Commissioner Ruth Hankins-Nesbitt has served on the commission since 1975, most recently as chairwoman. A Democrat and certified teacher, Hankins-Nesbitt has a law degree from Robert Terrell Law School, has been in private practice and worked for the Hacker's License and Appeal Board.

Commissioner Wesley H. Long, a 53-year-old Democrat who is described as the most "pro-consumer" of the three commissioners by consumer groups, is a former Bowdoin College and Pennsylvania State economics professor. He has also worked at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Maryland: PSC Chairman Frank O. Heintz, 41, has a law degree from the University of Maryland and has been a delegate to the Maryland General Assembly, a Baltimore city councilman, an assistant to Maryland's lieutenant governor and executive director of the Maryland Employment Security Administration.

Commissioner William A. Badger, a 54-year-old Democrat, has an MBA from Loyola College and a law degree from the University of Baltimore. He has served in the U.S. Army, and worked for the Baltimore County Government and the Maryland State Department of General Services. He is a former administrator for the Maryland Tax Assessment Appeal Board.

Commissioner Lilo K. Schifter, 61, has a law degree from Catholic University of America, has worked as staff attorney at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and been vice chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Commissioner Claude M. Ligon served in the military for 22 years and holds a degree in civil engineering from the University of Maryland. He came from AMAF Industries Inc., a private company, where he was manager of the civil engineering and transportation systems division. He is the second black to serve on the commission.

Commissioner Wayne B. Hamilton, a 69-year-old Democrat, holds a BS degree from the University of Maryland, was president of a retail furniture business between 1953-70 and served as a Garrett County commissioner, a member of the James Commission on State Land Use and Intergovernmental Relations, a member of the Governor's Commission on Funding of Public Education and a member of the Statewide Health Coordinating Council.

Virginia: Chairman Preston C. Shannon, a 60-year-old Democrat, has a law degree from the College of William and Mary, served in the U.S. Army and has worked as a lawyer for a number of companies, among them Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Co., now a part of CSX Corp. He has served as commerce counsel to the Virginia SCC and has taught at University College of the University of Richmond.

Commissioner Thomas P. Harwood Jr., a 56-year-old Democrat, has a law degree from the University of Virginia, has served in the U.S. Army, been in private practice, and served as deputy commissioner and commissioner of the Industrial Commission of Virginia.

Commissioner Elizabeth Bermingham Lacy, 40, is former Virginia deputy attorney general for judicial affairs, a division that prosecutes consumer protection violations and oversees the state's antitrust laws, state regulations and conflict of interest statutes. Before working for the Virginia state attorney general, Lacy worked for the Texas attorney general, drafting that state's consumer protection act.