Olton withdraws from consideration to head the PUC

PROVIDENCE – Laura S. Olton has withdrawn her name from consideration to chair the R.I. Public Utilities Commission, Gov. Gina M. Raimondo’s office confirmed Tuesday.

Olton submitted a letter of withdrawal to Raimondo’s Chief of Staff Brett Smiley Monday.

Olton, who lived in Wellesley, Mass., did not initially meet the position’s requirement of being an elector in Rhode Island. Olton had reportedly registered to vote in Barrington at her cousin’s residence following her nomination. Recently, the R.I. GOP filed a lawsuit challenging her residency.

“From the outset, I looked forward to the opportunity to testify before the Senate regarding my experience and my commitment to the residents and businesses of Rhode Island,” wrote Olton in her withdrawal letter. “Unfortunately, however, it has become clear over the last several weeks that matters unrelated to my qualifications have impacted the appointment process, and, as a result, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my name from consideration.”

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Raimondo issued a statement Tuesday saying that she would look for a new nomination to chair the PUC in the coming months.

“Laura Olton has extensive experience in the energy sector and would have been an asset to the Public Utilities Commission as Rhode Island moves to build a clean, affordable and reliable energy future,” said Raimondo. “While I’m disappointed to lose a nominee of her caliber, I respect her decision and wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors. I look forward to selecting a new nominee for the PUC in the coming months.”

Olton also thanked the governor for the nomination in her letter to Smiley and touched on her qualifications for the position.

“I was extremely honored when Gov. Raimondo’s office nominated me to serve as Chair of the Public Utilities Commission,” said Olton. “In particular, it was wonderful to meet with the governor and discuss her vision for a green and low-cost energy future for Rhode Island. Given my extensive experience in energy regulation and my demonstrated commitment to public service, it felt like a perfect opportunity to bring my knowledge and leadership to Rhode Island to further the state’s clean and affordable energy agenda.”