The Louisiana Public Service Commission this week nixed plans for a statewide energy efficiency program.
In December it looked as if the commission would back the idea. But since then, a member of the commission – Jimmy Field – retired and was replaced by new member Scott Angelle who cast the deciding ballot against the program in a 3-2 vote.
Angelle, who took his seat in January, said he’s concerned about the program’s cost for small businesses because utility companies would be able to charge their customers for energy efficiency initiatives, reported the Associated Press.
Supporters of the program argue that ratepayers ultimately would save from the efficiencies. The initiative would have given electric utilities and natural gas providers about a year to develop incentives for residential and business costumers to make energy efficiency improvements, reported The Times-Picayune.
PSC Chairman Eric Skrmetta, who voted to abandon the energy efficiency plan, said the commission would revisit the idea, hire a different consultant to advise them and hold technical hearings to eventually return with a new approach. However, he didn’t provide a timeline for any of this. Skrmetta did tell the Associated Press the consultant who worked on the proposal appeared to have a conflict of interest.
But Casey DeMoss Roberts, executive director of the Alliance for Affordable Energy, said Skrmetta was acting speciously, according to The Advocate. The consultant in question was Atlanta-based J Kennedy and Associates, which the Louisiana PSC regularly uses for expert reports, said Roberts.
Supporters of the energy efficiency program also were angered that Skrmetta refused to allow any additional public comment on the issue, and they pointed out that 46 other states have energy efficiency programs through utilities.