The Pennsylvania Senate has unanimously confirmed Gov. Wolf's appointment of Norman Kennard, 65, a veteran Dauphin County utility lawyer, to fill a vacancy on the five-member Public Utility Commission.

Kennard, a Republican, most recently served as counsel to the man whose seat he is assuming, Robert F. Powelson, of Kennett Square, who resigned in August after President Trump appointed him to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Kennard's term will expire March 31, 2019.

Kennard previously worked in private legal practice in the gas, water, electric and telephone sectors.  He began his career litigating public-utility issues for the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate.  He also served as counsel to PUC Commissioner Clifford L. Jones in the 1980s.

The PUC regulates a wide range of utility services, including electric, gas, water, taxi and telecommunications companies, and increasingly, pipelines. The commission faces an contentious decision on whether to allow the Laurel Pipe Line, which delivers fuel from Philadelphia refineries to Western Pennsylvania, to partly reverse flow to give Midwestern refiners greater access to the state.

Kennard's confirmation Tuesday restored the five-member commission to full strength — two Republicans and three Democrats. The governor was required to name a Republican to the post because the commission, by law, can have no more than three members of one political party.