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Jared Chicoine confirmed as first commissioner of the state’s new Department of Energy

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The Executive Council confirmed Jared Chicoine as the head of the state’s new Department of Energy. The council also confirmed Pradip Chattopadhyay as a commissioner for the Public Utilities Commission.

Chicoine, who served as Gov. Chris Sununu’s first policy director, was nominated to lead the new department on a permanent basis after serving as interim commissioner. The Executive Council confirmed his nomination with a 4 to 1 vote.

The new department Chicoine leads will work with the Public Utilities Commission and the Governor to set and carry out energy policy in the state.

Councilor Cinde Warmington spoke against Chicoine’s nomination, saying it marked a dangerous direction for the future of the state.

“Mr. Chicoine has no technical expertise in the area of energy. This is a newly created department that will be critical in charting our course forward in energy policy,” she said.

Warmington said the nomination was particularly concerning in conjunction with other recent nominations of political appointees to the Department of Energy and the Public Utilities Commission. She said the PUC’s recent order on energy efficiency was an example of the impact of those nominations.

“The lack of knowledge at the PUC most recently resulted in an order eviscerating our state’s energy efficiency programs. We simply must stop playing politics with this critical issue,” she said.

Warmington said the state needs to take action on climate change.

Chicoine has stressed a market-driven approach to energy issues, including climate change. In his confirmation hearing, he said people were “divided” on climate change, and that he wanted to “avoid moving to an extreme on either side.”

During the Executive Council meeting, Councilor Joseph Kenney said Chicoine was a good fit for the position, after leading the Office of Strategic Initiatives and building relationships and government experience in New Hampshire.

“This is a kid that grew up in Northern New Hampshire who respects the environment, who respects the wellness of the state, who will continue to do that in that position of commissioner.”

The Council also unanimously confirmed Pradip Chattopadhyay as a new commissioner at the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission.

Chattopadhyay has worked as an economist, and previously served as the state’s assistant Consumer Advocate. He is currently a senior advisor at the Public Utilities Commission.

Jared Chicoine’s salary as Commissioner of the Department of Energy will be $108,212, and Pradip Chattopadhyay’s salary as a Commissioner at the Public Utilities Commission will be $126,620.

Mara Hoplamazian reports on climate change, energy, and the environment for NHPR.
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