Kuhs Leverages Union Experience for State Energy Facilities Board Matters

Dan Kuhs is a big believer in the iconic phrase, “All politics is local.” In fact, the 33-year veteran commercial diver and pile driver for Local 56 of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters believes that it’s a standard to live by.

“Being involved in public service gives you the ability to influence your community, and influence the quality of life for your family,” says Kuhs.

His rise through the ranks with the carpenters union has settled as Regional District Business Manager for the Specialty Trades, as well as holding other Local and Council elected offices. And he’s the vice-president on the New England Maritimes Trades Council.

Kuhs says his appointment to the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board by Governor Duvall Patrick is the position that allows him to make decisions that are in the best interest for his family, community, state, and Brotherhood - all at once. The Siting Board is charged with ensuring a reliable energy supply for the Commonwealth with a minimum impact on the environment, at the lowest possible cost.

The Board's primary function is to license the construction of major energy infrastructure in Massachusetts, including large power plants, electric transmission lines, natural gas pipelines and natural gas storage facilities. 

The nine-member panel requires three to be public seats: one each from industry, environment, and labor. The Board is supportive of the Cape Wind Project - the first offshore wind farm in the United States, which is expected to supply more than 75 percent of electricity to the Cape Cod area.

“I lobbied for that post. We were at a number of hearings that went before the Siting Board for Cape Wind, and I saw how this Board can either impede or help a project,” Kuhs explains. “It’s one of those Boards that most people don’t know exists, but has a lot of influence. And I saw the potential to guide development.”
“Being involved in public service gives you the ability to influence your community, and influence the quality of life for your family.”

Kuhs points to Massachusetts Congressman Tip O’Neill’s “all politics is local” phrase as a battle cry for all UBC members to get involved.

“I would tell any brother or sister to go ahead and do it. While I was out in the field, I never saw myself in this position, but being there and being able to weigh in on important projects matters to me.”

Personally, Kuhs says his time on the Board has built his confidence to where he believes he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to.

“A lot of guys are hesitant. Maybe they fear failure, but if they don’t get a position they want the first time around, they will get what they want if they just stay tenacious.”