As if WV's current governor-appointed PSC Commissioners aren't bad enough (completely clueless political favors or biased industry plants), a handful of legislators have set their sights on guaranteeing that future Commissioners are on the utility payroll.
A couple of bills intended to "fix" our awful public service Commission could end up making matters worse.
First up, HB2238 attempts to fix the PSC by geographically spreading out the commissioners to have one from each congressional district. Whatever. This one is harmless.
But HB2483 wants to elect commissioners. And where do these legislators think PSC candidates will get their campaign money?
They will get it from the investor owned utilities they would "regulate" if elected. And how do you suppose these "elected" commissioners would vote on proposals by their campaign funders?
In other states that elect PSC commissioners, the vast majority of PSC campaign money comes from the utilities the PSC regulates.
Alabama PSC funded by coal.
Georgia PSC funded by utilities.
Louisiana PSC funded by utilities.
Accusations of utility influence fly in Montana PSC race.
76% of Nebraska PSC campaign donations from utilities.
South Dakota PSC candidates accept unlimited donations from utilities they regulate.
PSC Commissioners moonlighting as industry lobbyists.
PSC Candidates funded by utility contractors when law prohibits direct utility contributions.
Candidates for New Mexico's Public Regulation Commission receive public funding for campaigns since 2003.
Oklahoma regulator accepts congressional campaign contributions from utilities she regulates.
And because PSC Commissioners would be elected from three different districts, that would remove the current requirement that at least one of them be an attorney. It would also toss out the window the current requirement that only two of them can be from the same political party.
Considering a huge majority of the voters electing utility-financed PSC candidates have never heard of the PSC and have no idea what they do, is it a good idea to let these clowns elect commissioners based on TV ads or party affiliation?
As long as the governor appoints commissioners, we stand a chance of getting decent commissioners from a decent governor. Once utilities can influence PSC elections, there is absolutely no chance of getting a decent commissioner. None.
Kick this legislation to the curb. Uninspired and thoughtless "fixes" may just cause further damage.