OH NOOOOOOOO!  In my search of the New York Times just now for articles about Xcel, I found this, an obituary for Meyer Shark, who died in May when I was out in Delaware… I had no idea.  He was one of a kind, making a second career of exposing and correcting utility abuses.  I met him when I was working for Florence Township, and we explored various means to hold Xcel, then NSP, accountable, and I was delighted to know there was someone leading the charge.  In the NRG docket, he pushed hard to make public the impact of NRG’s bankruptcy on Xcel and Minnesota ratepayers.  Now what? Where are the public interest attorneys?!?!

To find the NRG docket:

Go to www.puc.state.mn.us

Click “eDockets” and “Search Documents”

Search for docket 02-1436

Here’s David Cay Johnston’s tribute from the New York Times:

Meyer Shark, lawyer who fought utility, is dead at 94


Myer Shark, a Minnesota consumer lawyer whose last case sought to recover $300 million of taxes that electric customers paid a utility but that federal and state governments never received, died yesterday in a suburb of Minneapolis, days after filing the final papers in the case. He was 94.

His death was announced by a daughter, Janet Frisch. He died at a hospice in St. Louis Park, Minn.

The taxes Mr. Shark sought were embedded in the electric rates paid by customers of Xcel Energy’s Minnesota electric utility. The government did not get the money because a sister company went bankrupt, generating a huge tax refund for Xcel. Mr. Shark’s pursuit of the case inspired investigations and hearings in at least four other states.

“The law says utilities are entitled to just and reasonable returns,” Mr. Shark said three weeks ago. “When the utility pockets money that they got from ratepayers, money that was supposed to pay taxes, then they are earning unjust and unreasonable rates and I’m going to fight that as long as I’m alive.”

Ron Giteck, an assistant Minnesota attorney general, said that in the weeks before he died, Mr. Shark “filed everything that needed to be filed so the case can be decided” by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Last week the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission awarded Mr. Shark $20,000, the maximum allowed under state law, for his pursuit of the tax case on behalf of ratepayers. In an era when lawyer fees in a case can run into the tens of millions of dollars, Mr. Shark had asked for $160 an hour plus $437 in expenses, for a total of $30,000. Xcel opposed any payment.

Mr. Shark was born in Devils Lake, N.D., and graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1936.

In addition to his daughter Janet, of Golden Valley, Minn., he is survived by his wife of 67 years, Marjorie, of St. Louis Park, Minn.; another daughter, Miriam Shark of Baltimore; two sons, Bud, of Lyons, Colo., and Steve, of Fargo, N.D.; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

While he was a fierce opponent in rate cases, Mr. Shark often answered his phone whimsically, saying “you have reached your friendly Shark.”

Here’s the tax appellate case:

In the Matter of Complaint of Meyer Shark, et al., Regarding Xcel Energy’s Income Taxes

Meanwhile, a search of the Star Tribune, “all years” shows nothing…  Oh, here it is: Myer Shark – Star Tribune

One Response to “Meyer Shark — who will fill his shoes?”

  1. Alan Muller Says:

    So what became of the case he was working on when he passed?

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