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Minnesota’s new PUC chair familiar with complex issues

Judge Beverly Jones Heydinger

The newly appointed chair of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission said Wednesday she’s looking forward to putting her experience to work.

As an administrative law judge for the past 13 years, Judge Beverly Jones Heydinger has helped the commission sort out some of its most complex and contested cases.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Heydinger on Wednesday to chair the five-person public utilities board, which oversees natural gas and electric utilities in the state.

Heydinger succeeds former Sen. Ellen Anderson, who stepped aside in January after the state’s Republican-led Senate rejected her appointment.

Administrative law judges are called on to conduct hearings, collect testimony and make recommendations to the utilities commission for controversial projects in which facts are in dispute.

The cases Heydinger has worked on include certificate of need and routing cases for the CapX 2020 transmission project and the MinnCan tar sands pipeline.

“In her work as an Administrative Law Judge, she has demonstrated a strong depth, breadth of knowledge, and ability to master complex issues quickly,” Gov. Dayton said in a statement.

Heydinger previously worked as a deputy attorney general. She has a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College and attended law school at the University of Michigan.

“I see this as a tremendous opportunity to take the background I’ve gained in the course of handling those cases and become more involved in the policy development,” Heydinger said in an interview Wednesday.

Sometimes it’s hard to make everyone happy, but Heydinger makes all sides feel like they’ve been listened to, said Jerry Von Korff, a St. Cloud attorney who represented the city of Avon in one of the CapX 2020 routing cases.

“I think she left everybody feeling that what they had to say had been heard and considered,” Von Korff said. “She’s bright, fair, and thoughtful. She’s a great choice.”

Carol Overland, a Red Wing attorney, disagrees with Heydinger’s decisions not to allow some landowners to intervene in the CapX and MinnCan cases.

“Participation in those hearings is such a crucial part of this. Otherwise, it has no legitimacy,” Overland said.

Heydinger will start her new position on July 2.

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