NAWC appoints new chief executive

The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) Board of Directors has selected Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Robert F Powelson to serve as NAWC’s new chief executive. In this role, Powelson will guide the strategic direction of the organisation, oversee the association’s operations and work directly with the more than 220 NAWC member companies.

In August 2017, Powelson was confirmed by the United States (U.S.) Senate for a seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Prior to his appointment to FERC, he served on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission since 2008, including as Chairman from 2011 to 2015. Powelson was first nominated to the PUC by Democratic Governor Ed Rendell and was reappointed for a second term by Republican Governor Tom Corbett. As PUC Chairman, Powelson ensured ratepayers were involved in all issues that came before the Commission and that the ratemaking process was transparent. While on the PUC, he was particularly focused on Pennsylvania’s water infrastructure development, promoting the availability of safe drinking water and reducing unaccounted-for water.

“As NAWC looks to the future, Rob brings to the association tremendous experience at both the state and federal level,” said Christopher Franklin, chairman and CEO of Aqua America and president of the NAWC Board of Directors. “He is taking the helm of the NAWC at an important time in the water industry. His unique skills and relationships will help to highlight the capabilities of NAWC member companies in solving some of the challenges facing many mid and small sized municipal water and wastewater utilities. Rob also has first-hand experience in working with utilities and regulators to encourage the investment in infrastructure that is critical in keeping our nation’s viable.”

Powelson is past president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), where he also was a member of the Board of Directors. He served as chairman of the NARUC Committee on Water and represented the Water Committee on NARUC’s Task Force on Climate Policy. From 2014-2015, Powelson also served as President of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners (MACRUC). Prior to joining the Pennsylvania PUC, Powelson served as president of the Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry.

He is also a graduate of St. Joseph’s University and received a Master of Governmental Administration degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

“As the only public utility whose product is ingested, water has always been of particular importance to me as a regulator. I’m proud of the innovative regulatory environment I helped create in Pennsylvania,” Powelson remarked. “I look forward to bringing this same progressive approach to my new role with NAWC. Building on the long-time proven record of NAWC members in serving tens of millions of Americans, together we’ll work toward solutions that address water and infrastructure challenges and ensure safe and reliable water service for every American.”

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Chapter of NAWC awarded Powelson the James McGirr Kelly Award for Excellence for his efforts to encourage legislators, regulators, and public utilities to adopt best practices to accelerate the replacement and upgrading of utility infrastructure to provide safe and reliable service. His efforts to strengthen the Commonwealth’s water infrastructure were also credited with improving the quality of life for Pennsylvanians, protecting the environment and creating jobs and economic growth.