PUC general counsel out after tweet under pseudonym

CARSON CITY — The general counsel to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission is no longer employed by the agency after it was pointed out at a meeting last week that she commented on the net metering policy under review by the panel using a pseudonym on social media.

Carson City resident Fred Voltz, who comments frequently on matters before the commission, said he linked former general counsel Carolyn Tanner to a Twitter account using the name “DixieRaeSparx.”

Voltz said he made the connection via a Google search of a Twitter account and connecting the picture on the account to Tanner’s Facebook page.

“A review of these comments shows that Ms. Tanner was disparaging the rooftop solar companies, the net metering customers and the Bureau of Consumer Protection, while at the same time praising NV Energy, when the Commission still had this matter pending before it,” Voltz told the commissioners in the public testimony portion of the Wednesday meeting.

He provided a link to the comments.

The Twitter account appears to have been closed.

Voltz said Tanner appeared to have violated the rules of Judicial Conduct which prohibit a judge or court staff from making comments that impair the fairness of a matter pending before it. The rules apply because the PUC is a quasi-judicial agency.

The PUC had no comment and would not even say if Tanner had left the agency. But she is no longer listed as staff member on the PUC website.

Tanner was named general counsel in August 2013.

The PUC earlier this year adopted a new rate class for net metering customers who installed rooftop solar systems. Net metering allows homeowners to receive a credit for the excess electricity they generate. The issue was one of the most hotly contested matters before the PUC in years, generating a lot of opposition from the rooftop solar companies and net metering customers.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801

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