PSC candidates differ on taking money from utilities

PSC candidates differ on taking money from utilities

The two most high profile candidates in the race for Louisiana Public Service Commission District 2 seat are taking campaign contributions from regulated utilities, while the other three pledge they will not.

Republican Scott Angelle, the former head of the Department of Natural Resources, says about 5% to 7% of his funds are coming from entities regulated by the PSC, which he says reflects their "endorsement of me, not my endorsement of them."

Rep. Erich Ponti, R-Baton Rouge, says he's also accepting contributions from regulated companies. But Forest Wright, D-New Orleans, says he's "made a principled stand not to accept money from private utility companies" regulated by the PSC.

Sarah Holliday, R-Baton Rouge, and Greg Gaubert, no party-Thibodaux, made similar statements, saying their stance shows their independence from the companies they would be regulating.

The five candidates, all of whom addressed the Baton Rouge Press Club today, largely agreed the profit level guaranteed to electric companies at least ought to be examined, along with the feasibility of further hardening the electricity transmission and distribution against future storms.

The state's failure to collect an $80 million federal grant for rural broadband was roundly criticized, although Angelle—one of Gov. Bobby Jindal's top lieutenants—says the grant may not have been advisable given the high national debt. At the time, the Jindal administration said the way the feds wanted to implement the grant would have undermined private businesses.

Angelle has also taken heat from former PSC candidate Ed Roy for stepping down from the DNR as the sinkhole crisis was unfolding in Assumption Parish. Angelle says state statute prevents the DNR head from reviewing decisions of the Office of Conservation and says it's too soon to say whether a regulatory failure contributed to the sinkhole.

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