The Maryland Office of People’s Counsel (OPC), a state agency within the attorney general’s office that represents consumer interests before the Public Service Commission and other government agencies, is getting a new leader.
Paula M. Carmody, people’s counsel for the state of Maryland, announced Monday that she plans to retire on Jan. 1, after 14 years on the job.
Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) has tapped David S. Lapp, deputy counsel for the Maryland Department of Health, to replace her.
The OPC is a unique, 96-year-old government entity that advocates for ratepayers and consumers in regulatory cases involving public utilities. While the office often dives into the arcana of utility regulation, it has recently fought to prevent electric and gas service shutoffs for consumers who have been unable to pay their bills during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“OPC is a small but mighty independent State agency tasked with the responsibility of representing the
interests of Maryland households who rely on essential utility services to light, heat and cool their homes, and provide power for their home appliances and telephone service,” Carmody said in a statement. “We also have worked together with our sister agencies in other states to advocate for consumer-friendly telecommunications policies.”
In a statement, Frosh said Carmody, who was appointed by his predecessor, former attorney general Douglas F. Gansler (D), was uniquely suited to the job.
“From her years as an attorney with Maryland Legal Aid, as an assistant attorney general in the Consumer Protection Division, to most recently serving as People’s Counsel of Maryland, Paula’s career has been defined by her commitment to public service and to the citizens of Maryland,” he said. “She has been a tireless advocate for Maryland’s residential utility customers, and her expertise has been particularly essential during the pandemic.”
Lapp, who has been chosen to replace Carmody, has focused on the regulation of the health care industry while at the state Health Department. As deputy counsel, he leads a team of attorneys responsible for representing and advising the Maryland Medical Assistance program, which provides health care to more than 1.2 million Marylanders with a state budget exceeding $6 billion.
Prior to joining the Department of Health, Lapp served as chief counsel of the Tobacco Enforcement Unit at the state attorney general’s office, and has also spent more than 10 years advocating on behalf of consumer and environmental interests in the field of utility regulation, first as a writer and policy analyst and then as an attorney. He holds a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law.
“David brings decades of experience in state and federal regulatory policy in the utility, tobacco, and health care industries to the position,” said Frosh. “He has spent the last 16 years in the Office of Attorney General, and we are pleased that he will continue to serve the citizens of Maryland as People’s Counsel, representing the interests of consumers who rely on essential utility services.”