PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Public Utilities Commissioner Chris Nelson was sworn into office on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, to officially begin his new term. Nelson’s oath was administered by South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven R. Jensen in the State Capitol in Pierre as part of the 2023 inaugural ceremony.
Nelson began serving on the Public Utilities Commission in January 2011 when Gov. Dennis Daugaard appointed him to fill a vacancy on the commission. South Dakota voters elected him to complete the remaining four years of that term in November 2012. He was re-elected to a full, six-year term in November 2016, garnering the highest electoral percentage ever for a contested statewide race and was again re-elected by voters in 2022.
The PUC is a three-member panel that is charged with regulating investor-owned electric, natural gas and telephone utilities and administering the state’s natural gas pipeline safety program and the grain warehouse program, among other responsibilities.
“I thank the people of South Dakota for giving me the honor of serving them for the next six years,” said Nelson. “Taking the oath today is a solemn reminder of the trust they have placed in me.”
Nelson has a long history of public service. Prior to joining the commission, he was elected to serve two terms as South Dakota secretary of state. Prior to holding that position, he spent 13 years working as the state election supervisor within the secretary of state’s office and was the uniform commercial code supervisor in the same office for two years.
Nelson served as the PUC’s chairman in 2012, 2015, 2016, 2021 and 2022 and as vice chairman in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2019 and 2020. He also represents South Dakota’s interests as a member of several national and regional organizations including the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, where he serves on the association’s Board of Directors and is co-chair of the Washington Action Program. He has also been appointed by the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service.
View Commissioner Nelson’s full biography on the PUC website, https://puc.sd.gov.