Baumstark makes first cut for PSC seat

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By Pat Faherty

Crystal River resident James S. Baumstark is one of 11 applicants to be considered for two upcoming vacancies on the Florida Public Service Commission.

It is a familiar position for Baumstark, who was a finalist for a commission seat in 2010.

At the urging of people who had supported him in the past, he joined about two dozen applicants in applying this year.

On Wednesday, the PSC Nominating Council cut the list to 11 for the interview process.

At least six of those interviewed are expected to be selected — three names per seat — for Gov. Rick Scott to make the appointments, which will require Senate approval.

“I’ve been through this process before,” said Baumstark, who is looking forward to his interview in late August. “It’s a big step ahead, but his decision is the one that counts.”

Baumstark is currently an independent consultant to the power industry and chairman of the International Utility Working Group, a consortium of nine utilities from major urban areas of the world, working on new methods of power transmission and distribution.

He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and retired naval officer with 28 years experience in nuclear submarines.

Baumstark has spent 22 years in the utility industry. He retired from Consolidated Edison of New York as vice president of central engineering. Before that he was director of engineering at the Crystal River nuclear plant.

He acknowledged the PSC seat is a full-time job facing complex issues, but he is confident he has the right technical expertise from his education and experience, and leadership ability from being a Navy officer and vice president of engineering.

“My experience has all been in the utility industry,” he said. “But I’m not a politician.”

Living in Crystal River, he said he is very aware of how the actions of Duke Energy have affected the area residents.

“We came back here because we love the area,” he said. “This is my chance to give something back.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Pat Faherty at 352-564-2924 or pfaherty@chronicleonline.com.