Entries Tagged 'PUC' ↓

What is the actual function of the PUC? The competing views… (Guest Poster)

Who is Fiegen looking out for?

Notice how Kristi Fiegen and Chris Nelson are never really talking about protecting the citizens? Kristi’s ads focus on protecting business. Does this mentality have something to do with her past positions with ALEC and the money each has received over the years from the energy companies they are to regulate? Read Fiegen’s material and listen to her ads, we’ll give you a moment, or two….  Look for these messages to let you care only about the corporation’s needs.  Nowhere in their collective messages do the say they are protecting us, the citizens, from the abuses levied upon us.  Think about it…

Hurt businesses in South Dakota versus hurt citizens of South Dakota?  Since when is more import to protect business in South Dakota than the people? Is the PUC there to protect the businesses from the wrath of the people for the abuses perpetrated by the businesses?

After Governor Frank Farrar’s disastrous decision to regulate the REA coops in 1969 the people of South Dakota understood the real need for a strong people oriented PUC.  For most of the next 40 years, Democrats had a seat at the table to keep the utilities functioning as they should, protecting the citizens.  In 1973 a young person, a single citizen, from a small South Dakota town actually was able to bring an action before the PUC against Northwestern Bell.  This action brought NW Bell to their knees.  NW Bell was not allowed to have a rate increase for about two years because the PUC agreed with the teenager.  I know this story well.  I was the teenager.  This action forced NW Bell to improve their service.  This action was accomplished because we had a PUC who could not be accused of being tied to the utilities.

Kristi and Chris are tied to the ALEC utility companies they have to regulate.  Who should we trust?

The PUC enjoys ‘Dickering’ they just don’t like giving West River residents very good rates (H/T – Badlands Blue)

Gary, do you know what it means to ‘Dicker’?

The 20 percent rate was Black Hills Power’s “best offer,” said Kyle White, vice president of regulatory and governmental affairs for the utility’s parent company, Black Hills Corp.

“Your job is not to negotiate,” White said to Hanson. “It’s to decide whether or not we’ve made a good offer.”

“I beg to differ,” Hanson replied, arguing that it’s his responsibility to “negotiate and dicker” and make sure rates are not unfair to the utility’s customers.

It means to negotiate, but the term is probably derived from ‘dicking around’. Well, kinda looks like Black Hills Power is doing just that, dicking their customers and dicking the PUC. Nice work commissioners. Do us all a favor, and do your job for once and stop dicking us around.

What is our PUC smoking?

2006SRC_turtle

The SD PUC approved a rate increase for Xcel Energy;

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday approved a settlement allowing Xcel Energy to increase its overall electric rates by about 5.5 percent for residential and commercial customers in the state.

The settlement would allow Xcel to earn about $8 million a year more from its 81,000 South Dakota customers in 36 communities in the Sioux Falls area. The company said the rates, to take effect Jan. 18, would raise the electric bill of the average South Dakota residential customer by about $5.55 a month, from $65.80 to $71.35, based on winter rates.

That’s right, during the middle of a recession the PUC thought it was a good idea to raise rates on electricity. While people’s wages have remained stagnant (for those of us who have jobs) why would the PUC approve a gigantic rate increase like this? Should they be allowed an increase? Sure. But 5.5%? Once again, even our PUC has proven the SD motto to be true, “Business first, citizens second.”

It also bothers me that a company who gives thousands of dollars a year to community programs (SculptureWalk comes to mind) needs to have rate increases. It seems a little odd that Xcel would ‘need’ this extra revenue since they all kinds of dough to throw at sculptures of turtles reading books. If you need this extra revenue, fine, but spend it on improving service.

Cap & Trade and Green Energy production will drive energy costs up?

But when utility companies spend money greasing the palms of our PUC officials that has nothing to do with our energy costs going up?

Public Utilities Commissioner Gary Hanson solicited money for an energy conference from many of the Midwest utility companies that the PUC regulates.

If this is the kind of thing that Gary thinks is okay, I would prefer he does not run for Mayor of Sioux Falls next year. We already have enough of that shit going on in City Hall.

Otter Tail Power Co., a $2,500 sponsor of last week’s conference, has a 15.3 percent rate increase, or $3.8 million, pending before the South Dakota PUC.

Kind of like Sioux Falls developers funding the campaigns of the City Councilors who voted for an unecessary tax increase last year that benefits them. But hey, there is no connection, just look the other way.

“The simple answer is, they should have never done this,” said David Schultz, a professor of business at Hamline University in St. Paul and a frequent lecturer on political ethics. “I question the motive, the conflict of interest is there. Customers, going forward, will question whether their next rate increase is on merit, or based on a trivial, but important, sponsorship as the utilities came through for these commissioners when they needed it.”

I have questioned utility sponsorship for years. This story is way overdue. For instance one of the biggest sponsors of SculptureYawn is Excel Energy, with it’s state director being the key founder, who probably spends countless hours of company time and resources to organize the event. I even talked to the VP of Excel about it once on the phone, wondering how the SD director can be critical of SculptureWalk dissenters (myself) on company time? Of course he defended him, basically saying he has to freewill to do what he wants. How do I get a job like that? While I am all for corporations sponsoring public art, I question our rates going up every year while service gets poorer. How about finding ways to save customers money on utilities instead throwing thousands of dollars around for din-dins and gigantic welded metal geese and turtles?

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Once again, pay to play is alive and well in South Dakota and it’s time the State Legislature ponied up and made this practice illegal. Yeah right, who am I kidding?

Crap & Trade

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I wish John Thune would just go away and take the PUkeC’s with him

Ironic Johnny is at it again, saying one thing in DC and another at home;

Sen. John Thune did not support the stimulus package but does back Lewis & Clark.

 

“Although I did not support the stimulus spending bill because of its size and the fact that very little of the funding was truly stimulative, I did support alternative proposals that would have provided important infrastructure funding. Without a doubt, funding for infrastructure creates jobs and has long-term benefits. … As a longtime advocate for this project, I know this money will no doubt expedite that progress and bring water to areas in need,” Thune said.

“Because there is one thing I have learned about being an ass-kissing hypocritical Republican, you really can have it both ways without the voters even knowing.”

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And South Dakota’s up and coming Republican ginger doesn’t help matters when it comes to the rhetoric;

“First off, we want to advocate smart policy coming out of Capitol Hill,” state PUC chairman Dusty Johnson said of the report. “The way cap-and-trade policy is being presented now, South Dakota residents could see a 48 percent increase in their bills, but there’s all kind of tweaks that can be made to ease the impact on South Dakota.”

Because energy costs haven’t gone up that much in the last 6 years? Give me a break. My electric bill has almost doubled in the past 4 years and my gas bill has gone up about 30%. Why. Because we are not looking for green energy solutions. Stop spreading the BS. Cap and trade will increase our energy bills for a few years, then they will start dropping. It’s an investment and it should be sold to the American people that way. Not more FEAR & SMEAR.