Saturday, October 14th is Election Day for Louisiana. Important votes include Mayor of New Orleans, City Council Members, and Louisiana Public Service Commissioner (LPSC). Don't let your voice go unheard, vote!
MAYORAL CANDIDATE ENERGY FORUM
Thank you to all of the mayoral candidates who participated in September 12th’s Energy forum:
CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE ENERGY FORUM
Thank you to all of the city council candidates who participated in September 20th’s Energy forum:
David Gregory Nowak- Division 2
Drew Ward- District A
Aylin MaKlansky- District A
Tilman Hardy- District A
Toyia Washington-Kendrick - District A
Timothy David Ray- District B
Andre Strumer- District B
Eugene Ben-Oluwole- District B
Nadine Ramsey - District C
Kristin Gisleson Palmer- District C
James Gray II- District E
Dawn Hebert- District E
Listen to some clips from the Forum:
LPSC CANDIDATE ENERGY FORUM
Thank you to Damon Baldone for being the only LPSC candidate to attend September 27th's Energy Forum. To listen to the Baldone’s responses during the forum, please see the video below.
While candidate Craig C. Greene did not attend the event, he has provided responses to many of our questions. See these responses written out below. Lenar Whitney both declined to attend and did not respond to questions.
Louisiana residents currently use 30% more electricity per household than the average American, driving bills up, despite low rates, especially during our hot humid summers. How would you tackle this problem in the coming years, as utility rates are expected to increase across the state?
As a commissioner, I will do my best to keep electric rates low as possible, while also accounting for reliability, environmental, and other concerns. As the question notes, and economic theory would suggest, low prices of any good, will increase demand for that good. It is ultimately up to individuals to decide how much electricity they wish to consume.
What kind of self-education would you undertake to ensure Louisiana’s consumer energy landscape keeps pace with the best practices and trends of smart energy policy in the US and move forward on your policy priorities?
A constant effort to increase one’s knowledge is key to success in any profession. As a physician, I have learned so much from continuing education seminars, collaboration with colleagues, and reading medical journals. As a commissioner, I would undertake self-study and talk with colleagues, experts on the LPSC staff, consultants, and, most-importantly, utility customers. In addition, I would participate in the various state, regional, and national organizations that host discussions of current issues, technological developments, and new regulatory initiatives.
Louisiana Public Service Commission is often a stepping stone for higher office. If elected do you intend to run for a different public office while seated as a Public Service Commissioner in the next year?
The utility business model has changed dramatically in the last 10 years and continues to evolve, causing many utilities to fear a “utility death spiral.” How would you work with utilities and other stakeholders to find ways to drive costs lower, offer more customer choice in utility services, and allow utilities an opportunity to earn a profit?
Like any business, utilities must evolve in response to consumer needs, competitive forces, technological change, and policy priorities. Look at how much the telecommunications business has changed in the last 30 years due to the advent of the Internet and advances in wireless communication. Electric utilities may soon face similar disruption. As a commissioner, I will listen to all ideas and consider any initiative that better balances the needs of consumers and utilities. However, what I will not do is protect a utility that is inefficient and/or unwilling to step up its game to meet changing circumstances and priorities.
The commission may weigh in again on rooftop solar policy in the coming months. Every state that has changed policy related to solar Net Metering has allowed customers who installed solar under net-metering policy to remain “grandfathered” under the original policy, even if a different interconnection policy is implemented for new customers. Would you support a “grandfathering” policy that would allow early solar adopters to maintain traditional 1 for 1 net-metering? Why or why not?
In general, I believe that those who make an investment under a certain set of rules should be allowed to continue under those rules. In the long-run, uncertainty caused by constantly shifting rule changes deters the very investment that the rules were designed to encourage. As such, I am inclined to support a “grandfather” clause. However, I never make an important decision without first having the chance to hear from all the stakeholders. I have not yet had that opportunity with respect to rooftop solar policy.
Historically, Louisiana has low energy rates, in part because of aging generating fleet that is edging close to retirement. How will you ensure replacement of this power capacity doesn’t create a spike in bills? Do you support utilities buying power from merchant generators rather than self-building plants, and coordinating Combined Heat and Power purchase from industrial customers?
As a conservative with a market-based political philosophy, I would like to harness competitive forces as much as possible. Therefore, I am a firm believer in requiring electric utilities to test the market for new power capacity before undertaking a self-build option. I also believe that cogeneration should be encouraged, as it has the potential to save ratepayers money and provide environmental benefits. In addition, I would ensure that utilities conduct long-range planning that is transparent and allows for stakeholder input. Such a process would provide visibility to potential non-utility power suppliers and allow for the evaluation of all good alternatives.
Louisiana’s energy efficiency program is still in a nascent phase, with only 3 years of programming thus far for our investor owned utilities, while other states are decades ahead of us. How would you work with other state agencies like the Louisiana Housing Corporation or Department of Natural Resources energy office to coordinate efficiency programs and grow access to money-saving efficiency programs?
I would want to see whether the LPSC and other state agencies, as well as the utilities, non-profits, and other stakeholders, could better publicize the potential benefits of energy efficiency. Better educated consumers are in a better position to make beneficial decisions.
Louisiana has an opportunity to leverage our experience with off-shore resources into national leadership in the supply-chain for off-shore wind, which could mean thousands of new jobs, and re-focused jobs. According to federal National Laboratories, off-shore wind in the Gulf of Mexico is just under 10 years from being cost-competitive in the gulf south, but energy experts strongly urge states to begin the work necessary to enable these clean, cost-effective resources, as the first off-shore wind farm in the US took a full 10 years to come to fruition. What would you do in the next year to support the development of Louisiana as a leader in new off-shore energy resources?
I would seek input from the various stakeholders and study the issue carefully. The idea has merit and is exciting; however, I would want to ensure that the timing is right based on the technology, the benefits outweigh the substantial installation and transmission costs, and ratepayers do not assume an unfair amount of the risks of such pioneering projects.