Yesterday, The Journal's Rachel Molenda reported that FirstEnergy (under the guise of its employees and political action committee) has become Governor Tomblin's biggest campaign contributor. It sure looks like FirstEnergy has bought itself a seat on the Public Service Commission. And according to The Journal, it only cost $94,000. It only took $94,000 in campaign contributions for your Governor to throw you under the bus by "fixing" a supposedly independent commission with a corporate insider.
Chairman Albert "previously served as a Manager and Member in the Business Law Department of Jackson Kelly, PLLC, in Charleston, West Virginia, focusing on public utilities and business and commercial transactions." In this capacity, Albert represented Allegheny Energy (now FirstEnergy) in all their cases before the PSC. Chairman Albert is FirstEnergy's boy.
Commissioner McKinney is AEP's boy.
One of these two has to go. The Public Service Commission is not fulfilling its mission.
We will work tirelessly to assure:
1. Impartial and efficient resolution of all jurisdictional issues;
2. Public safety through inspections of motor carriers, railroads, and natural gas pipelines;
3. An increase in business investment, job creation/retention and the state’s overall competitiveness;
4. An improvement in the standard of living and quality of life for the people of West Virginia;
5. That consumers receive the best value in utility service from financially viable and technically competent companies; and,
6. That utilities receive an opportunity to earn a fair return on their investment in regulated services.
Chairman Albert is not interested in helping West Virginians.
PSC Chairman Michael Albert’s recent remarks before a West Virginia legislative Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary epitomize the stagnant and captive nature of our current PSC leadership. Albert told the committee that the days of cheap utilities are over and that the only remedies for consumers who cannot afford higher utility costs are conservation or budget and consumer assistance programs. Instead of investigating creative solutions, which the PSC is empowered by law to do, Mr. Albert throws in the towel and goes along with the claims of West Virginia’s Ohio-based electric companies.
§24-1-3. Commission continued; membership; chairman; compensation; quorum.
(b) The Public Service Commission shall consist of three members who shall be appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The commissioners shall be citizens and residents of this state and at least one of them shall be duly licensed to practice law in West Virginia, with not less than ten years' actual work experience in the legal profession as a member of a state bar.
The Governor makes hundreds of appointments every year. The appointments are gathered up periodically and forwarded to the Senate for confirmation. The next set is expected to come before the Senate for confirmation in January 2014. The Senate has a Confirmations Committee to deal with this function. The Senate can confirm the Governor's appointment, or the Senate can reject the appointment, in which case the Governor must appoint someone else.
It has become crystal clear, both to the citizens of West Virginia and their elected representatives, that change is desperately needed at the Public Service Commission. We simply cannot afford another 6 years of uninspired, bought and paid for, corporate-influenced leadership. Let your senator know that you want change!