TRA's female director resigns

TRA's female director resigns

March 14th, 2013 by Andy Sher in Business Around the Region

Sara Kyle speaks to attorneys during a hearing at the Hamilton County Courthouse dealing with a proposed rate increase by Tennessee American Water.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - The only female director on the Tennessee Regulatory Authority announced Wednesday she is resigning, warning she is concerned about impacts of 2012 changes on the state's consumers.

Sara Kyle, a Democrat first elected to the former Public Service Commission in 1994, said legislation, pushed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam last year, "changed the structure of the agency from a full-time to part-time [board], which severely limited our ability to render fair and just decisions.

"With less time and reduced staff, we have fewer checks and balances and less opportunity to protect Tennessee consumers from unfair practices in the utilities industry."

The former PSC became the Tennessee Regulatory Authority in 1996. Changes included making the directors appointed instead of elected. Last year, Haslam successfully pushed legislation turning the agency's four full-time directors into part-time appointees.

This year, Haslam is pressing forward with new regulations that allow monopoly utilities like Tennessee-American Water Co. and Chattanooga Gas to move for some automatic increases instead of going through traditional, full-fledged rate hearings.

Kyle said in a news release that she enjoyed her service and "learning from the best and brightest team anywhere in the nation."