Commissioner Jon McKinney made a statement at the annual MACRUC (Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utility Commissioners) conference last week that goes a long way toward explaining why the WV PSC always seems to be at odds with the needs of West Virginia's utility consumers. In explaining why West Virginia might not be able to cooperate with other states in a regional effort to comply with the EPA's new carbon rules, Commissioner McKinney admitted:
“For [a regional solution] to actually happen, it goes way beyond the public service commissions. It has to get [approved by] the governors and the legislators,” West Virginia Public Service Commissioner Jon McKinney told the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners’ (MACRUC) annual education conference. “I’m handcuffed in my ability to do that. It has to start someplace else.”
Commissioner McKinney's 6-year term as Commissioner expired in 2011, three long years ago. However, he continues to serve at the will of the Governor, without being officially re-appointed. At any time, Governor Tomblin could appoint someone else and punt Commissioner McKinney into the wild, blue yonder. But he doesn't.
By playing games with Commission appointments, Governor Tomblin rules the PSC with an iron (corporate-funded) fist.
It's not that Governor Tomblin is too busy to re-appoint Commissioner McKinney, or appoint someone else. Earl Ray was "Johnny on the Spot" when former Allegheny Energy attorney Michael Albert's commission appointment expired last year. Albert was quickly reappointed to a third term, and "our" state senators lined up to rubber stamp his appointment.
So, when Commissioner McKinney says he's handcuffed, he probably really means it.
Is this any way to serve the public?