Recently Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle appeared before a group of concerned citizens after he voted for approval of the Energy Efficiency (EE) measure which favors utilities more than it does utility users. It was interesting to say the least.
Mr. Angelle started by “touting” the fact “Energy Efficiency” was the most “bang for the buck” as far as providing the biggest savings to “rate payers” but it previously “had not been allowed” by the PSC. He was told this was a ridiculously untrue statement. This is something individuals, not the utilities, are responsible for and the PSC has never prevented anyone from shopping for and buying more efficient appliances.
Angelle then pivoted and “lamented” the fact there hadn’t previously been any formal “Energy Efficiency” policy, either by the individual utilities or by the PSC. An accountant and entrepreneur pointed out to Mr. Angelle this was also untrue because most utilities historically included “inserts” with their bills about the “virtues” of buying more efficient appliances. Angelle countered these efforts hadn’t been very effective. Another businessman responded the reason for this is; anyone who knows how to calculate “return on investment” (which obviously does NOT include any of the three members of the PSC who voted for the “EE boondoggle”) can easily see in most cases, proposed energy savings “schemes” are really more akin to “scams” and are almost NEVER economically feasible. They almost always fail to produce any sort of a return.
Angelle then tried presenting the “EE” program as voluntary, but one particularly crotchety member of the assembly pointed out that it was only “voluntary” as far as the utilities were concerned. The PSC provided them with financial incentives to participate at the expense of the consumer. If the utility chooses to participate, then the fee is forced onto the consumer whether he wants to participate or not. At this point, Mr. Angelle was told the “nanny state” nature of what his vote had forced on us was the primary reason for the group’s opposition.
One participant took a solid stance based on his years of expertise earned in the energy industry and held Mr Angelle in a measured stare as he looked him straight in the eye and told him the matter, and the group’s opposition, could be summarized in a simple statement: “The first gift God gave man was life; the second gift was free will. What you’ve (Mr. Angelle and the PSC together) done is to take part of His gift away from me. That’s the nature of “nanny state” government.”
Mr Angelle appeared visibly shaken.
Mr. Angelle’s last defense was: the cost would only be “$0.47 per month to the average household (one that uses 1000 KW per month) and $5.16 per month for the average business.” Angelle said for a business to be charged $75 per month, their electric bill would have to exceed $15,000 per month. Angelle was told these numbers were very much in contradiction to numbers in the op-ed Commisioner Skrmetta wrote. Angelle’s answer was he wasn’t going to comment on something that another commissioner wrote. It was a disappointing answer in that it didn’t address the issue brought forth by a member of the PSC speaking to monetary outlay for energy users allowed by the PSC. Mr. Angelle was asked where Commisioner Skrmetta’s figures came from, but he had no answer. (Not very reassuring to note the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.)
Lastly, an engineer member of the assembly told Angelle the group was considering filing suit because of the way the “EE fee” is imposed. In reality it’s a tax, and the PSC doesn’t hold authority to impose taxes. The engineer asked Angelle whether or not (if he could be convinced that the fee was really an unconstitutional tax) would he be willing to reverse his vote and do away with this program. His answer was: if he could be convinced of that, he’d consider re-visiting the issue. (Again, it was a disappointing answer because it refuses to admit and recognize issues were pointed out to him proving the PSC favoring utilities over rate payers was fundamentally a wrong against the rate payers.
Mr. Angelle did say, before he left, that if he’d talked to any engineers, such as the two members of the audience, before his vote, he’d probably have voted differently.
Mr. Angelle is a decent man who simply made a mistake; he voted for something that’s bad for the people. It happens to all of us in our humanity and drive to direct our destinies. We do our best under the circumstances. Mr. Angelle will most likely be a fixture in Louisiana politics in future elections. He has a drive to do good things. We can only hope the quality of the man is reflected in his a drive to know as much as possible so he can make the BEST decisions available based on his interaction with specialists associated with the opposing side of any issue.
People balancing facts on both sides of a scale are those seeking justice, not merely a favored resolution. Let’s hope Mr. Angelle learns from his mistakes and does what he must to correct them; especially this one.
Thanks for listening.