Retired Public Staff director Robert Gruber has joined the Poyner Spruill law firm in Raleigh and will represent utility clients before the N.C. Utilities Commission.
Gruber is the latest high-profile regulator to go into private practice and represent businesses he used to oppose as a government lawyer. The former chair of the N.C. Utilities Commission, Jo Anne Sanford, and the former general counsel of the Utilities Commission, Robert Bennink, both represent Aqua North Carolina, the state’s largest private water utility company.
Gruber, who retired in 2013 after 40 years in state government, joined Poyner Spruill on May 1 as of counsel. He said he works part time as a legal advisor.
“I don’t have any clients yet,” Gruber said, noting that he expects to represent smaller utilities that specialize in solar energy and wind power, as well as “the occasional water company.”
The Public Staff is an independent agency that represents utility customers in rate cases before the Utilities Commission.
The current director of the Public Staff, Christopher Ayers, came to state government from Poyner Spruill.
Gruber directed the Public Staff for 30 years and before that was general counsel for the Utilities Commission, which sets utility rates for electric, natural gas and private water utilities, as well as transporation ferries and in-state movers.