Gov. David Ige’s appointment to the Public Utilities Commission was voted down by the state Senate Friday.
Ige appointed Thomas Gorak to the commission last June to fill the seat of outgoing commissioner Michael Champley.
He has been serving as commissioner since July 1, 2016.
Prior to the appointment, Gorak was the commission’s legal counsel, and was heavily involved in the Hawaiian Electric-NextEra Energy merger discussion.
Critics said the pick was illegal and unethical. Former PUC chairwoman Hermina Morita even filed a lawsuit, calling the move illegal because it was done when the Senate was not in session for a confirmation process, and because Champley had not stepped down. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed.
In a 15-10 vote, the Senate chose not to confirm Gorak. His term ends next week.
It’s now up to the governor to appoint a new commissioner.