Solomon nomination to utilities board advances

Posted: June 26, 2013

It took only two minutes for the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee to advise and consent Monday to the nomination of Diane Solomon to the Board of Public Utilities, an agency led by her husband at the outset of the Christie administration.

Her nomination won unanimous approval from the panel, which did not ask any questions other than a lighthearted query from the chairman of the committee, Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D., Bergen).

"I'm assuming you thought the job was great when your husband had it," Scutari quipped to Solomon.

"He was president, though," she replied.

Lee Solomon forged a deep friendship with Gov. Christie when both worked as U.S. attorneys. Solomon left the agency to return to being a judge in Superior Court and is often seen as a potential nominee to the state Supreme Court.

In her brief opening remarks, Diane Solomon cited her experience on the South Jersey Transportation Authority as making her qualified for the $140,000-a-year post.

The BPU oversees the state's gas, electric, water, and cable telecommunications companies, which are facing enormous challenges in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and other recent weather.

"Protecting the interests of ratepayers while being sensitive to New Jersey's environmental and economic needs require careful thought and sound judgment, and I trust that I bring those qualities to the board," Diane Solomon said.

Solomon, of Haddonfield, is an official with the U.S. Tennis Association.

The position opened when Commissioner Nicholas Asselta left for a job with Aqua America, a water utility that operates in New Jersey and other states and is regulated by the BPU.

She is expected to be confirmed by the Senate when it convenes Thursday.

Her nomination raised concerns from some critics of the BPU, an agency regarded by many as slow-footed in making decisions dealing with major infrastructure issues affecting the state's utilities.

Three of the four current commissioners have political connections. Asselta is a former assemblyman and state senator.

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