What is your reaction to how the EPA’s carbon emissions rule might affect your state? What are some ways your state is already prepared and what might be more challenging?
In our state because of its complex nature, we hired a consultant to examine and report back and be a liaison of sorts to make sure we’re aware of our status. So we’re studying it right now because we’re very concerned about ratepayer reliability being affected, rates potentially increasing. And these are concerns, not something we know yet. And that’s why we decided to study it to see if there’s any impact.
Louisiana by and large has an enormous amount of natural gas generation, which puts us in a different position. We always felt a little insulated because of our large natural gas generation when it comes to things such as carbon. But we still have to follow all the rules of EPA, rules of the government and make sure we’re doing the right thing in every aspect.
We actually have two programs in Louisiana, one on energy efficiency and one on renewables. We even have a metering program, all are in fledgling stages, but are in effect in Louisiana…We’re looking at all options in Louisiana to bring reliable fuels at low prices.
Do you foresee your state having a formal or informal stakeholder process?
We meet once a month in Louisiana and the last several meetings we’ve actually discussed it and have several reports on it.
We are generally very engaged with our neighbors and speak to other commissioners in other states. I sit on the (Entergy Regional State Committee) board. We meet regularly to discuss these types of issues. ERSC looks at mostly things that are interstate. Purchase power, transmission,things like that. All these questions come up, but in addition to that, we’re here at these conventions (the NARUC summer meeting).
I’m part of the (Southeastern Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners), which is a regional version of (NARUC). Louisiana entered into a (regional transmission organization) recently…So it’s another way we have great dialogue with states in the (Midcontinent Independent System Operator) territory.
Do you feel your role and responsibilities as a state regulator are evolving? Why or why not?
I see my role as a consumer advocate, someone who is working hard to find cheapest energy and reliability while having a good business conscience and managing well on behalf of our stakeholders and constituents and consumers…My role as a state commissioner hasn’t really changed because it’s a balancing act to find the right decisions as all the issues arise.
What are some of the biggest energy issues facing your state?
For us right now, on the surface is the MISO RTO, and we’ve just implemented that a few months ago and we’re learning how it works. It’s somewhat of a new animal for us, we’re very excited for it and it’s working very well.
We’re more engaged in the market process and the transmission should flow a lot smoother…Some of the things we have to grow through are who now has control when there is an outage? Who manages transmission when there is an issue, good or bad? Who takes the credit, who takes the blame? We’re pretty new so we’re just learning how it all works.
This interview was conducted at the NARUC summer meetings in July 2014. To see Q&As with commissioners from other states, visit our interactive map. For a broader story about how state regulators from around the country are reacting to the EPA’s carbon emissions proposal, click here.
If you’re a commissioner and didn’t get to talk to Morning Consult at the conference, feel free to contactEmily Holden. We’d love to hear from other state officials and stakeholders too.