From Hayride reader Bill Wallis, a report on yesterday’s doings at the Public Service Commission regarding a subject we’ve covered fairly extensively…
I want to take the time to thank LPSC Chairman Eric Skrmetta and at the same time ask everyone in Louisiana to post this on your Facebook wall and get this information out there. And you will want to when I explain that your utility bill is about to go up…. in a very sneaky way.
I took the drive to Baton Rouge Wednesday to attend the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) meeting. While many may know about them, many may be surprised to know what they are supposed to do for us. In a nutshell the PSC members are the “elected watchdogs” for all Louisiana citizens when it comes to how we are treated as consumers. One of their major roles is how we are treated as consumers of energy. In particular, how much the utility companies and energy companies charge us is overseen by the LPSC. But they also watch out for us in so many other ways like making sure a utility company doesn’t overreach in a way that might adversely affect us, or if a service oriented business is not operating in an ethical manner – they intervene. Many people don’t even realize they exist, but their job is to watch out for us in the marketplace.
In a nutshell, several members of the commission voted to approve the utility companies’ creation of a fund to help promote energy efficiency programs in Louisiana.
To some maybe, but what this really amounts to is a tax increase and slush fund that 3rd party groups selected by the utility companies can use at their discretion on whatever they want.
I know some of you may be saying, “green energy, renewable, sounds environmental, surely that’s good.” Right? I am for finding ways to make our energy last longer and some renewability blended in can be good, but there is deception going on here. There is no accountability on how these 3rd party organizations are using YOUR MONEY from this fund!
Furthermore, the monies being given to the 3rd party groups are being collected as a new tax on your monthly utility bill. That’s right – homeowners and businesses will be paying more every month as a result of this program. A program that Chairman Skrmetta voted against. How can this be, you might ask? The LPSC voted to give the utility companies this new program the right to tax you to pay for it. Then they are watching out for us, right?
I am here to tell you that ONE person on the commission is and fought VERY HARD to protect us, and he is Chairman Eric Skrmetta. Wednesday, he fought for accountability on two parts of this energy efficiency program and the majority of the others on the commission said NO. The majority of the commission members basically said they don’t want Louisiana residents to know how their money is being spent from this fund or if it is being spent to actually help “green energy.”
Chairman Skrmetta tried again to fight for us when he said there should be a line item on everyone’s bill so they know they are being charged more and why. But again, the majority of the commission members said NO. They don’t want Louisiana ratepayers to even know about this tax or why they are paying more. So my question is if they are the watchdogs for us, why are most of them trying to cover it up?
Now I will say there was a representative for the Alliance for Affordable Energy there that was in support of transparency, but he proposed it be placed in the annual reports. Dare I ask, who reads the annual reports? The people will notice this rate increase but will not know why their bill went up. They will also not know how much they are personally paying to support this program without the line item added to the monthly statement.
Chairman Skrmetta asked for transparency and accountability and others on the commission voted NO.