Minister Parsons Announces Appointments to Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities

  • Justice and Public Safety

March 14, 2018

The Honourable Andrew Parsons, Minister of Justice and Public Safety, today announced appointments to Commissioners of the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities (PUB).

Darlene Whelan, currently vice-chair with the PUB, is being appointed chair effective immediately. Dwanda Newman and John O’Brien have been appointed to fill two vacant commissioner positions for 10-year terms. Ms. Newman, whose current 10-year term expires in April, has been appointed vice-chair effective immediately and Mr. O’Brien will begin his appointment as commissioner on April 9. Biographies of each appointee can be found in the backgrounder below.

These appointments were recommended though the merit-based Independent Appointments Commission. Members of the public interested in opportunities to serve on provincial agencies, boards and commissions are encouraged to complete an application at .

The Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities is an independent, quasi-judicial regulatory body responsible for the regulation of the electric utilities in the province to ensure that the rates charged are just and reasonable, and that the service provided is safe and reliable. The Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities is a regulatory body operating in Newfoundland and Labrador under the authority of the Public Utilities Act.

The board is also responsible for ensuring fairness in marketing of petroleum products throughout the province in accordance with the Petroleum Products Act, and for the supervision of rates charged by automobile insurers for the various automobile insurance coverages, limited regulation of the motor carrier industry in relation to certain passenger and ambulance operations, as well as conducting hearings and other required activities under the Expropriation Act.

“The Public Utilities Board strives to achieve an equitable balance between the interests of consumers and service providers in the electric utility, petroleum products, automobile insurance, and motor carrier industries. We are very pleased to appoint these commissioners as each individual is qualified for the role and I am sure they will continue to contribute significantly to the important work of the PUB.”
Honourable Andrew Parsons
Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General

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Learn More
Newfoundland and Labrador Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities  

Public Utilities Act  

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Media contact
Lesley Clarke
Justice and Public Safety
709-729-6985, 699-2910

Biographies Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities Appointees

Darlene Whalen
Darlene Whalen was appointed as a full-time commissioner and Vice-Chair of the Public Utilities Board in May 2000, following a three-year term as a part-time commissioner. Before joining the board full-time Ms. Whalen worked in both consulting and engineering education, primarily in the areas of water resources engineering, environmental analysis and transportation systems. As a commissioner and vice-chair for the past 18 years Ms. Whalen has participated in all matters before the board over that period, including major utility and insurance rate applications, and had administrative responsibilities for most aspects of the board’s operations.

Ms. Whalen is a past president of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador and served as Chair of the Board of Directors for the St. John’s International Airport Authority. She has also served on many other professional and community organizations, both as a volunteer and executive member, including the Newfoundland and Labrador Science and Technology Advisory Council, the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation, Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador (PEGNL), the Canadian Association of Members of Public Utility Tribunals (CAMPUT), and was a founding member of the Newfoundland and Labrador chapter of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE-NL). In recognition of her achievements in, and contribution to, the engineering profession and the community Ms. Whalen received PEGNL’s highest honour, the Award of Merit, in 2016.

Ms. Whalen is a registered professional engineer and a fellow of Engineers Canada, and holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) degree and a Master’s degree in Applied Science and Environmental Engineering, both from Memorial University.

Dwanda Newman
Dwanda Newman was appointed as a full-time commissioner of the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities in April of 2008, following six years in the position of legal counsel to the board. Over the past 16 years, Ms. Newman has made a significant contribution to the board, participating in all aspects of the board’s operations, including a broad range of legal, financial, economic, regulatory and other technical matters. In her 10 years as a commissioner, Ms. Newman was a decision maker in all significant matters before the board, including most utility and insurance rate applications.

Ms. Newman holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from Dalhousie University and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Memorial University. Before joining the board, Ms. Newman was legal counsel at WorkplaceNL and worked in private practice with the law firm Cox Palmer for several years.

John O’Brien
John O’Brien obtained a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons.) from Memorial University and is a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA), and a Fellow Chartered Professional Accountant (FCPA). In addition, Mr. O’Brien holds a designation in information systems. Since 2015, Mr. O’Brien has been the Director/Superintendent of Financial Services Regulation with ServiceNL. Prior to joining the department, he was a partner with a national accounting firm and he has over 20 years experience in financial reporting, financial consulting and regulatory matters.

Mr. O’Brien has served in a number of leadership roles within the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) profession including a term as Chair of the Institute Chartered Accountants of Newfoundland and Labrador, Co-Chair of the CPA Transition Steering Committee and board member with CPA Newfoundland and Labrador.

2018 03 14 3:45 pm