Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) District 1
The Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) regulates public utilities and motor carriers. Its explicitly stated goals are “to ensure a regulatory balance that enables utilities to provide customers with safe, adequate and reliable service, at rates that are just and reasonable, equitable and economically efficient, and that allow utilities an opportunity to earn a fair rate of return on their investment.” So, sure, they’re regulators, but they aren’t a threat to Entergy’s monopolistic profits.
Louisiana Public Service Commissioners represent more citizens than a typical U.S. Congress district. LPSC District 1 serves 671,376 registered voters. Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes account for almost two-thirds of those voters. Another third comes from Ascension and Livingston. The rest comes from a smattering of voters in seven other parishes, including a small sliver of Orleans. The five elected LPSC Chairs make decisions worth billions of dollars and do so under very little public scrutiny. All of which are the classic conditions which lead to “regulatory capture” by corporate interests. For instance, instead of investing in clean energy, Entergy is currently planning to replace several fossil fuel power plants with newer ones at a cost of about $1 billion each, all with the LPSC’s blessing.
The LPSC consists of five elected Commissioners who serve overlapping terms of six years. Commissioner Lambert C. Boissiere, III, of District 3, and Commissioner Foster Campbell, of District 5 are incumbent Democrats. Recently, the stakes of this race have increased, with Governor Edwards announcing his renewable energy initiative for the Gulf of Mexico, with plans to harness Louisiana’s strengths in offshore energy production for the development of wind power. Flipping District 1 would give the Commission a Democratic majority that could help pave the way for a Green New Deal in Louisiana.
Eric Skrmetta (R) has represented LPSC District 1 since 2009, and was elected Chairman of the Commission in 2012. His tenure there has been marked by a lack of renewable energy growth in Louisiana compared to other states. Skrmetta receives the bulk of his campaign revenues from the large corporations that run utilities and the financial interests that help the power companies do their business. Since 2011 he has accepted $47,000 from the phone companies who gouge prisoners for making calls from jail. He also found himself at the center of an ethics controversy when he requested the Gulf State Renewable Energies’ financial support ahead of the November 2014 election in exchange for his vote in support of more lenient metering policies in Louisiana (i.e. quid pro quo). He has been endorsed by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, the State Republican Party, and the Louisiana Sheriff's Organization.
A career lawyer from New Orleans, Allen Borne (D) has practiced law in the area for over 35 years. Committing to a policy of non-corruption, Mr. Borne has pledged not to take campaign contributions from the monopoly utilities he regulates. He is also proposing that the LPSC adopt campaign finance prohibitions, similar to Georgia & Mississippi, that limit contributions from regulated utilities to regulatory candidates. In addition, he plans to ensure the LPSC increases reliable internet access to all state residents, increasing transparency within the LPSC, and investing in a more sustainable future. Borne has been endorsed by the State Democratic Party, Independent Women’s Organization, Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee, Sierra Club - Delta Chapter, & the New Orleans Coalition.