The Philadelphia Gas Commission is searching for a new executive director to replace Janet Parrish, who is retiring at the end of the month after 13 years heading the agency that oversees the city's gas utility.
Parrish, who turned 65 last month, was a key behind-the-scenes adviser to City Council during the proposed 2014 privatization of Philadelphia Gas Works, a deal that collapsed after Council declined to take it up for a vote. Parrish is paid $156,00 a year.
At her final Gas Commission meeting Tuesday as executive director, Councilman Curtis Jones commended Parrish's role advising Council on the PGW sale. "You often don't realize how valuable a person is until it comes time to replace them," said Jones, one of five members of the commission.
Last Thursday, Council passed a resolution recognizing Parrish's decades of public service, including positions as a low-income customer advocate and as a Gas Commission hearing examiner and staff member before she became executive director in 2003. The city will have a reception for her Thursday.
Parrish, a lawyer, said she plans to stay on as a consultant to the commission during the transition to a new executive director, whose hiring is being directed by chairman Derek S. Green.
The Gas Commission's regulatory role was diminished in 2000, after the state legislature ordered the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to assume oversight of PGW. The city commission, which previously regulated all aspects of the utility, retained control over PGW's budget but not its rates.
A PUC audit in 2015 said the city could streamline governance by combining the Gas Commission and the Philadelphia Facilities Management Corp., the nonprofit that serves as PGW's board of directors. The move could save up to $500,000 of the Gas Commission's $800,000 annual budget, the audit said.