Still Not Understanding Governance

This has been floating around my inbox for a few weeks because it’s worth noting, but I’m not sure how much there is to say about it:

Saying that the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission is not effectively doing its job of implementing and enforcing reasonable rates for consumers, Sen. John J. Tassoni Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Smithfield) is calling for the disbandment of the commission.
Senator Tassoni said next session he plans to introduce legislation, which is already being drafted, that would disband the PUC and require the commission to be regulated through the General Assembly. …
“Members of the Assembly are elected by their constituents to represent their best interests. However, consumers have no say in who is appointed to the PUC, a body that determines how much they’re going to pay for electricity and natural gas and in many cases, whether they’re going to be able to put food on the table for their families. Our current system just doesn’t make sense. Legislators are the ones who are out in the communities, hearing about how these inflated utility costs are hurting consumers. Therefore, it should be our responsibility to regulate the utility rates that affect our constituents.”

Well, one thing is obvious: Mr. Tassoni could use a seminar on the concept of separation of powers. The PUC is currently appointed by the governor “with the advice and consent of the Senate.” In other words, it is ultimately accountable to voters, but with a degree of separation to prevent economically unfeasible demands from being imposed on the energy industry in the state.
Once again, though, we see the socialist impulse: “Oh, just let me decide!” And all those who agree with the intended outcome (or who drool for a pool of power in which they can strive to dip their hands) pant in agreement.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
15 years ago

“a body that determines how much they’re going to pay for electricity and natural gas and in many cases, whether they’re going to be able to put food on the table for their families.”
Actually, no. The cost of electricity and gas is not controlled by the PUC. It’s mostly controlled by the impact of market forces on the price of fossil fuel. (Side comment: drill, baby, drill!)
Now, the PUC is definitely “on the side” of the utilities and not the consumers. So (not that there is any evidence that they have done so) they have the inclination to shave things in favor of the utilities. But “shave” only; not the wholesale jacking of prices beyond the market.
And, no offence, but I have zero confidence that the dominant party in the General Assembly is capable of getting to the bottom of and eliminating whatever slight overcharge may have been imposed. The senator’s suggestion brings to mind, instead, the collapse of energy providers several years ago in California, who were caught in a vice of well intentioned but vicious and ultimately fatal over-regulation by the California legislature.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
15 years ago

I have to actually disagree with you,Monique.The projection for natural gas this winter is a more than adequate supply-meaning lower cost for the product.will National grid lower prices accordingly?I bet they will find a way around it.And the PUC will lick their a##es,like the good dogs they are.
I thought it was unconscionable for National Grid to try to pass along the cost of advertising for people to switch to gas to the consumer.
National Grid was allowed to take over all utilities here with the understanding it would be a saving to the consumers.What a crock!
I am the polar opposite of a socialist,but private industry acting like the Mafia doesn’t get my approval either.
Between the out of control investment bankers,the oil companies,and the utilities the rest of the country is geting hosed to pay for multi million daollar salaries for CEO’s and other big title people.
The old robber barons at least had a sense of loyalty to the employees,and provided concrete goods and services,unlike the money movers in Lehman Bros,Bear Stearns,AIG,Wamu,etc,etc.
What is a pisser is that the biggest payoffs to overlook nefarious activities went to liberals like Reed,Schumer,Frank,and Dodd.

Citizen Critic
Citizen Critic
15 years ago

Legal issues aside, given how the RI General Assembly has mismanaged its other affairs, I would not even grant them the additional responsibility for catching stray dogs.

Citizen Critic
Citizen Critic
15 years ago

Out here in Idaho, the monthly electricity bill for my 3000 square foot house is… $60.
Last I looked, my juice only costs 5 cents / KWH.
Natural gas is cheap too.

15 years ago

Joe, by all means, supply and price trends need to be watched in the context of what the PUC does. Unfortunately, part of the problem is that one of the influences on the price of these fuels is location. That’s in part why Citizen Critic pays less for heat, etc, in Idaho. We in the Northeast pay more, solely because we are in the Northeast. (There has to be a way to blame this on the Democrats …)

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.