State officials apparently sees no problem when it comes to rushing through legislation that affects tens of thousands of Louisiana public school students or locking Louisiana into long-term tax relief for industries with little or no tangible benefits to the state but less than three months after its passage, a program approved by the Louisiana Public Service Commission (PSC) to give consumers an avenue to reduce energy costs may be scrapped.
The PSC is scheduled to vote on Wednesday to repeal the statewide energy-efficiency program to develop ways to cut down on power consumption to help save money for hundreds of thousands of homeowners and businesses.
Utilities would be required to file annual reports with the PSC that provide energy savings estimates and annual load reductions. The first phase, Quick Start, is scheduled to last a little less than four years from which point utilities will develop longer-term plans.
The problem? The program is expected to cost utilities between $25 million and $30 million. And guess who pours money into the campaigns of PSC members?
So now, while the ink is still wet on the regulation approved last Dec. 12, new PSC Chairman Eric Skrmetta (R-Metairie), himself the recipient of $45,000 in campaign contributions from energy-related firms and political action committees, has deemed that the ugly break for low- and middle-income consumers is a bad, bad thing and should be repealed henceforth.
It’s okay to hand out $5 billion a year in corporate tax breaks, exemptions, waivers and rebates but apparently taboo to take any action beneficial to consumers.
Remember what they say about money and B.S. and talking and walking.
Forty-six states currently offer Energy Efficiency programs to help consumers save energy costs (a program beneficial to everyone except the utility companies).
Heavy industrial users, which make up about half of Entergy’s Louisiana power consumption, are ineligible to participate if they use more than five megawatts of electricity, or about five times the average household consumption.
The initiative passed by 4-1 vote in December with Skrmetta voting in favor despite his stated opposition.
Contact numbers for PSC members are:
Eric Skrmetta (Metairie): 504-846-6930
Scott Angelle (Baton Rouge): 225-342-6900
Lambert Boissiere (New Orleans): 504-680-9529
Clyde Holloway (Forest Hill): 318-748-4715
Foster Campbell (Elm Grove): 318-676-7464