Governor Mills Nominates Longtime Utility Expert William Harwood as Public Advocate

Photo of William HarwoodHarwood would bring decades of utility regulatory experience to leading the state consumer representative office

Governor Janet Mills today nominated William Harwood as Public Advocate for the State of Maine. Harwood, one of Maine’s most experienced energy and utility attorneys, currently serves as Senior Advisor for Regulatory Affairs within the Governor’s Energy Office, a position he has held since September of 2021.

“When it comes to utilities in Maine, few people are more experienced or knowledgeable than Bill Harwood – and no one is better positioned than Bill to stand up for Maine people and hold our utilities accountable to them,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Bill’s deep expertise, built over his decades long career, will serve Maine well and will advance our efforts to hold our utilities accountable and deliver reliable service for Maine people.”

“I am honored to be nominated as Maine’s Public Advocate. If confirmed, I will work hard every day to defend the interests of Maine people,” said Bill Harwood. “The bottom-line is that Maine ratepayers deserve reliable service at just and reasonable rates, and I will fight every day to make sure that’s what they are getting.”

The Office of the Public Advocate's primary responsibility is to represent the interests of Maine utility consumers, primarily in proceedings before the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and in cases before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Prior to joining the Governor’s Energy Office, Harwood served as Senior Counsel at Verrill Dana in Portland. Over his four-decade legal career, he represented a wide range of entities, such as utility customers, public utilities, renewable energy companies, technology companies, paper mills, and colleges and universities, in matters before state and federal regulatory agencies. He has also helped landowners, from blueberry growers to nursing homes, in their negotiations with renewable energy developers regarding the siting and benefits of new solar projects.

Harwood has also been involved in many water utility issues in Maine, including representing customers in disputes over water charges, disputes with owners of land adjacent to sources of supply and disputes over access to water supplies. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Maine School of Law, where he taught utility regulation and administrative law.

Harwood has served on the Board of the Maine Bar Foundation and Legal Services for the Elderly, including as its Chair. He has also served on the governing boards of Hearthstone Inc., Katahdin Institute, The Jackson Laboratory, Yarmouth Historical Society, Waynflete School and Maine Justice Foundation, and the Hurricane Island Foundation. He is a past recipient of the Muskie Access to Justice Award, the American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, and the Howard Dana Award for Outstanding Service for his work to promote free legal services for the poor.

Harwood is a graduate of Harvard University and Fordham University. He lives in Yarmouth with his wife, Ellen, and has five grown children.

Harwood’s nomination is subject to confirmation by the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, as well as the Maine State Senate. If confirmed, Harwood would replace former Public Advocate Barry Hobbins, who retired from the position in June 2021. Andrew Landry, Deputy Public Advocate, has served as Acting Public Advocate in the interim.

Governor Mills today also formally nominated Andrew Butcher to serve as President of the newly-created Maine Connectivity Authority. Governor Mills announced her intent to nominate Butcher earlier this year.