http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2013-04-23/lawsuit-filed-against-psc-over-energy-efficiency

AP News

Lawsuit filed against PSC over energy efficiency


BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Supporters of a statewide energy efficiency program on Monday sued the Louisiana Public Service Commission over its handling of a decision to shelve the program.

Three organizations said the utility regulatory agency broke the state's open meetings law by refusing to allow public testimony before voting. The groups are asking a state district judge to overturn the PSC decision abandoning the program plans.

The lawsuit was filed in Baton Rouge district court by the Alliance for Affordable Energy, the Sierra Club and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network.

At its February hearing, the commission voted 3-2 to reverse course on the energy efficiency program that had been approved two months earlier — without allowing program supporters to weigh in.

PSC Chairman Eric Skrmetta, who voted to scrap the program, refused to allow new testimony on the issue at the February meeting, saying that had all been done in previous commission hearings.

"By not allowing public comments, the Commission failed to uphold their most important duty — to serve the public's interest," Jordan Macha of the Sierra Club said in a statement.

A spokesman for the PSC wouldn't comment Monday about the lawsuit's claims, saying the regulatory agency hadn't formally received the lawsuit and will review it when received.

The program would have offered incentives to people to make their homes more energy-efficient, but the incentive costs would have been passed along to all customers of the power companies.

After the program was approved in December, the PSC membership changed. A new commissioner, Scott Angelle, was elected, swinging the vote.

Commissioners who voted to scrap the program said they were worried about the program's costs.

Supporters of the program said any costs to utility customers would be more than offset by the rate savings because of efficiencies created in the way power is delivered and used.

When the energy efficiency program was abandoned, Skrmetta said the commission would study the idea and return with a new approach.


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