Andalusia native, former member of PSC passes away

Published 8:00 am Monday, May 9, 2022

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Andalusia native Jim Sullivan, who served for 25 years as president of the Alabama Public Service Commission, died this week in Birmingham.

Charles James ‘Jim’ Sullivan III

Sullivan was appointed to the Public Service Commission, the state’s regulatory agency for utilities commonly known as the PSC, in 1983. He ran mostly-unopposed for reelection until his retirement in 2008.

Alabama Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh. said Sullivan was a trail blazer in the utility regulation arena and very active at the state and national levels.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Jim Sullivan. The impact of his legacy as a public servant continues to be felt at the Alabama Public Service Commission even today. In addition to leading our agency for more than 20 years, Commissioner Sullivan was at the forefront of the conservative movement in Alabama. I deeply value the time I spent working with him when he served as Finance Chairman for the Alabama Republican Party and I served as its Executive Director. We pray for his family and their ability to find comfort and peace during this difficult time,” Cavanaugh said.

A 1964 graduate of Andalusia High School, Sullivan was recruited to Ole Miss as a wide receiver. In a 2004 interview, he told political columnist Bob Ingram that he caught his first collegiate touchdown pass as a freshman, which was the only TD in his collegiate career. At Ole Miss, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and went on to earn an M.A. in banking and finance, as well as a juris doctorate from the University of Alabama.

After his retirement, he formed The Sullivan Group, a utility consulting firm servicing the utility and other industries with regulatory and strategic counseling.

During Sullivan’s public service career, he served as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (1998-1999); organized the inaugural international World Forum on Energy Regulation (2000); and established the NARUC Education and Research Foundation (2001). He also served as a director of the University of Chicago’s Board of Governors for the Argonne National Laboratory (2002-2007) and on the advisory boards of the Keystone Energy Board (1997-2003), the Electric Power Research Institute (2001-2005) and Nuclear Electric Insurance, Ltd. (1995-2001).

Most recently, he served as a senior policy advisor for the Energy Institute of Alabama, and as a board member of the Empire District Electric Company and Glenwood, a nonprofit Autism and Behavioral Health Center in Alabama.

In November 1998, he was elected president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, or NARUC, the principal voice of the states on national energy and telecommunications policy. He also served as Chairman of NARUC’s Committee on Critical Infrastructure.

“Jim Sullivan was a great friend and mentor to me. He was an exceptional leader not only for the State of Alabama, but for the nation as well. Commissioner Sullivan’s immense knowledge of utility regulation and the energy industry was unparalleled, and he will be deeply missed on a personal and professional level. My prayers and love go out to Toody and his entire family,” said Commissioner Jeremy H. Oden.

Before entering government service in 1983, Jim managed his family’s retail furniture business and became a successful building contractor and real estate developer.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Susan Toler Sullivan.

He is survived by his current wife, Toody, of Birmingham; four children and nine grandchildren.

A memorial service was held at the Mountain Brook Baptist Church on Saturday, May 7, at 11 a.m. with visitation starting at 10 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, you may contribute to Glenwood, Inc. or Children’s Hospital of Alabama.