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Paula Carmody will retire as people’s counsel for Maryland; replacement is David S. Lapp

Paula Carmody, who has represented residential utility customers as people’s counsel for Maryland for 14 years, said Monday that she plans to retire Jan. 1.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh appointed David S. Lapp to succeed Carmody. Lapp, deputy counsel for the state Department of Health, oversees regulation of the health care industry and provides advice to the state’s Medicaid program.

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Carmody was appointed to lead the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel in January 2007 by then-Attorney General Douglas Gansler. The independent agency represents residential consumers of electric, gas, telecommunications and water services, before the Maryland Public Service Commission, other state and federal agencies, and the courts.

“Paula’s career has been defined by her commitment to public service and to the citizens of Maryland,” Frosh said in a statement. "She has been a tireless advocate for Maryland’s residential utility customers, and her expertise has been particularly essential during the pandemic.”

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Frosh said Lapp brings decades of experience in state and federal regulatory policy in the utility, tobacco and health care industries to the job.

Paula Carmody, head of the Maryland Office of People's Counsel, at her downtown office.
Paula Carmody, head of the Maryland Office of People's Counsel, at her downtown office. (Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor)

Under Carmody’s leadership, the Office of People’s Counsel has advocated for protections for consumers at the Public Service Commission, the legislature and federal agencies. The office has represented residential consumers in cases involving rate increase requests, utility mergers, transmission line construction and the reliability of gas and electric distribution systems, and helped develop energy efficiency and community solar programs.

“The Office of People’s Counsel ... 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 an announcement. “Customers want and need energy, water and telecommunications services that are reliable, safe and (relatively) affordable.”

Carmody said she has worked with sister agencies in other states to advocate for consumer-friendly telecommunications policies and services that have become more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A presentation of issues affecting consumers in smart meter litigation became a national model for assessing the costs and benefits of smart meter installation.

Carmody said she is especially proud of co-founding the Critical Medical Needs Program, a voluntary partnership to help and protect seniors and limited-income customers. The program is now part of the state’s Office of Home Energy Programs.

This year, the office advocated for policies to protect distressed households from utility service terminations during the health crisis.

David Springe, executive director of the National Association of State Consumer Advocates, said Carmody has become a nationally recognized expert on utility advocacy.

“She has had a remarkable career,” Springe said in a statement.

Before she became the people’s counsel, Carmody served as an assistant people’s counsel and an assistant attorney general in the Consumer Protection Division of the state attorney general’s office. She also had been an attorney with Maryland Legal Aid and the managing attorney for the UAW-GM Legal Services Plan.

During the administration of former President Barack Obama, she served on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee.

As deputy counsel at the state health department, Lapp 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.

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He served before that as chief counsel of the tobacco enforcement unit at the state attorney general’s office.

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