Should Louisiana allow utility companies to compete? That’s one of the questions posed to Public Service Commission candidates at a forum Tuesday.
Dr. Craig Greene said: “I think smart metering is a good idea -- more efficient ways of doing things – and if we can give customers options.”
And the current appointed commissioner, Damon Baldone, answered with: “Would I like to see competition? Yes. But we have the lowest rates in the country, even though these utility companies have a monopoly.”
The third Republican in the race, Lenar Whitney, mistook the scheduled time for the event, so did not attend the luncheon forum hosted by the East Baton Rouge GOP.
The candidates for the District 2 seat, which represents a million residents from the Felicianas south to Houma-Terrebone, were also asked how they’d deal with customer complaints about higher electric bills following disasters, such as hurricanes and floods.
“That should not be correct,” said Baldone, a lawyer and former state lawmaker who recently switched from Democrat to Republican. “We implement a rule that the companies cannot charge reconnect fees if somebody’s down.”
Greene, an orthopedic surgeon by trade, suggested power companies could prepare in advance for disasters and “have a high price all the time so the prices stay the same when you have a catastrophe.”
While the majority of the questions focused on the candidates’ knowledge and preparation for becoming a regulator of the state’s utilities, it was a partisan-hosted event. And there was this question from Scott Wilfong, who is actively campaigning to be the next Louisiana Republican Party chairman:
“All that’s great but it sounds really boring to me,” Wilfong began, then asked, “Where do you stand on issues that matter to real conservatives? Are you pro-life? Are you pro-gun? Do you support President Trump?”
Baldone replied: “If you look at my voting record, my pro-life, pro-gun and anti-tax policy speaks for itself.”
And Greene said, “I’m pro-life. I own 17 guns. I voted for Trump.”
The election is October 14th.