Susan Duffy resumed work at the Kansas Corporation Commission on Wednesday as one of three commissioners on the utility, transportation and energy regulatory panel following an eight-year absence.
Duffy, appointed a commissioner by Gov. Laura Kelly, served as executive director of the KCC from 2003 to 2011. She most recently was general manager at Topeka Metropolitan Transit Agency, which operates the city of Topeka transit system.
"I look forward to the opportunity to serve the citizens of the state of Kansas in a very different role," Duffy said after taking the oath of office in Topeka. "There's some tough issues before us, and I believe collectively as a team here we will continue to work on those issues in a fair and impartial manner."
The KCC regulates investor-owned utilities, oil and natural gas exploration and production, and the commercial trucking industry.
Duffy replaced former Commissioner Jay Emler, who was appointed in 2014 by Gov. Sam Brownback. She will be on the commission with chairman Dwight Keen, appointed in 2018 by Gov. Jeff Colyer, and Commissioner Shari Feist Albrecht, chosen in 2012 by Brownback.
"We're pleased to have Commissioner Duffy join us," Keen said. "I think Susan, by virtue of her experience in government, will add a great deal to the commission's deliberations."
In addition to working as executive director and chief financial officer at KCC, Duffy was director of administration for the Kansas Historical Society, fiscal controller and director of research for the Kansas Department of Revenue and a senior analyst in the state budget office.
Kelly said in a statement Duffy had the "skills and experience to enhance and improve how Kansas provides critical services in energy, telecom, natural resources and transportation."
The three members of the KCC are appointed by the governor and subject to confirmation by the Kansas Senate. Commissioners serve overlapping four-year terms. No more than two members of the KCC can be in the same political party.
Tom Wright, who was chairman of the KCC from 2007 to 2011, said the commission's decisions had a substantial impact on hundreds of thousands of people and thousands of businesses through the process of determining rates paid by consumers to utility companies. The majority of Kansans are served by investor-owned utilities, such as Westar Energy or KCP&L, which merged into Evergy.
Members of the commission have the job of balancing interests of ratepayers, utility companies and stockholders of those companies, Wright said.
"The KCC can't favor any one of those," he said. "Ratepayers always believe utility rates are too high, the utilities believe they are too low and the utility stockholders think their stock should pay more."
He said a reasonable balance would be if all three factions where slightly dissatisfied.
"The idea that the KCC is 'too business friendly' or 'too consumer friendly' depends on your point of view," Wright said. "The KCC strives to be neither of those."