PUC lawyer named state consumer advocate
State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Director Mark Recktenwald did not have to look far for the next state consumer advocate.
He chose Public Utilities Commission legal counsel Catherine Awakuni.
As executive director of the Division of Consumer Advocacy, Awakuni will represent all Hawaii consumers in matters before the PUC.
Her first day on the job is Monday.
She replaces John Cole, who accepted an appointment on the PUC in July.
Awakuni said her experience working for the PUC will help her in her new job because she brings greater understanding of the processes and procedures the commission has to follow. And she has already met all of the representatives of the utilities who are now her adversaries.
"I'm looking forward to being an advocate on behalf of consumers," she said.
She hopes to raise the general public's awareness of the office of consumer advocacy and its role in how the PUC operates. She said she would also like to advance the use of renewable energy resources for electricity generation.
Awakuni has been PUC counsel since 2002. Prior to that, she was an associate at Bodden & Muraoka, a law corporation, and at Ashford & Wriston LLP, where she specialized in real property transactions, estate planning and entity formation.
She was also a law clerk for former state Circuit Judge Boyd Mossman on Maui. Awakuni received her undergraduate degree in business from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and her law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law.