PUC Chair Brown and Vice Chair Place Join in Commemorating Life and Legacy of Linda Taliaferro, First African-American Woman to Lead PUC
November 16, 2018
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chairman Gladys M. Brown and Vice Chairman Andrew Place today joined an array of leaders and advocates from the public and private sectors in recognizing the life and legacy of Linda C. Taliaferro, who guided the PUC through turbulent times during the late-1970s and 1980s and served as a trailblazer and role model for many who have followed.
At the time of her appointment in 1979, Taliaferro was only the third woman to ever serve on the Commission, and in April 1983 she became the first African-American woman to Chair the PUC. Her wide-ranging career included service as an attorney, a regulator, a utility board member, a professor and an advocate for minorities and low-income groups.
“Linda’s leadership at the Pennsylvania PUC – guided by a firm belief that it was essential to make objective decisions, based on the facts, science and economics of an issue, rather than a political agenda – continues to frame the way we strive to operate today,” said Chairman Brown in her opening remarks. “Additionally, her insight that deregulation serves to increase the impact of regulatory actions, clearly holds true today.”
Today’s program, presented by the Harrisburg chapter of American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) and Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, explored the spirit of Taliaferro’s regulatory role – perhaps best encapsulated in a magazine profile of her titled “With Electricity and Justice for All.”
Panelists at today’s program included current PUC Vice Chairman Andrew G. Place and past Chairman/Commissioner James H. Cawley (who served alongside Taliaferro on the PUC), along with Pennsylvania Consumer Advocate Tanya McCloskey, and many others. The discussions touched on diversity and inclusion in energy matters and included recollections from those who served with, or were inspired by, Linda Taliaferro.
Taliaferro’s leadership in Pennsylvania touched numerous major utility issues, including the aftermath of the nuclear powerplant accident at Three Mile Island and the regulation of rates for nuclear generators in Pennsylvania; the break-up of AT&T and restructuring of local telephone companies; deregulation of the trucking industry, accompanied by PUC’s Motor Carrier safety inspections; and early state efforts to promote electric conservation and weatherization programs. Additionally, Taliaferro was a co-founder of AABE, which works to foster a strong national voice in energy policies.
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Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
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