Tulane University hosted the Clean Grid Summit last week. It was enlightening to hear local energy leaders discuss the future of our electricity system. Clearly, meeting the needs of a growing population while modernizing the grid and delivering power without added pollution is a worthy goal the vast majority of Louisiana citizens support.
The only troubling discussion during the daylong summit came from Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta. He serves as PSC chairman and is running for re-election, and yet, he never once mentioned clean electricity.
This was not a surprise, though. Skrmetta’s actions as PSC chairman show that he has no real intention of supporting energy efficiency efforts or sustaining clean, renewable energy. And his actions are in glaring opposition to the desires of Louisiana’s voters.
In a recent poll by Edward Chervenak, 87 percent of Louisiana voters support renewable energy in the state’s portfolio. And 97 percent want to choose where their energy comes from. So in a state where electric monopolies like Entergy control our power supply, only renewable energy options actually offer Louisiana voters an energy choice.
Skrmetta should support clean, renewable energy as a choice for his constituents when that’s what the voters want.
Skrmetta, a lawyer, has avoided all attempts to engage in a public debate with his competitors. Over $300,000 of his donations are from the companies he regulates.
Forrest Wright, a Republican with a professional energy industry background, is willing to debate his opponents, and unlike Skrmetta, Wright talked about supporting renewable energy and a clean, smart grid at the Clean Grid Summit. Wright also stated that he would not accept donations from the companies he regulates. What a refreshing idea: an actual energy expert with principles as a public service commissioner.
Skrmetta should not be allowed to dodge the debates. Even if he’s afraid to debate an energy expert like Wright, he should at least stand up with his competition and answer tough questions. The voters need to know where the candidates stand on critical issues. If candidates like Skrmetta can duck important issues during a campaign, how can we expect him to address them as a commissioner?
Nancy J. Marshall