Governor Janet Mills today swore in William Harwood as Public Advocate for the State of Maine. Harwood, one of Maine’s most experienced energy and utility attorneys, was unanimously confirmed for the position by the Maine State Senate today. The Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology had also unanimously voted on January 11, 2022 to recommend his confirmation.
“When it comes to utilities in Maine, few people are more experienced or knowledgeable than Bill – and no one is better positioned than him to stand up for Maine people and hold our utilities accountable to them,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I look forward to working with Bill and drawing upon his deep expertise to advance our efforts to hold utilities accountable and deliver reliable service for Maine people.”
“I am honored and deeply humbled by the unanimous vote of the Maine Senate to confirm my appointment as Public Advocate,” said Bill Harwood. “This is an important time for Maine and there is abundant work ahead to represent and protect the interests of Maine ratepayers, hold our utilities accountable to ensure delivery of affordable, reliable service to all Maine people, and help navigate the energy transition in Maine and its effect on our climate, environment, and economy. I look forward to getting started, and will do all in my power to live up to the responsibility bestowed on me today.”
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 his confirmation, Harwood served as Senior Advisor for Regulatory Affairs within the Governor’s Energy Office, a position he has held since September of 2021.
Before 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 replaces 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.