CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Public Service Commission has a new consumer advocate, Jacqueline Lake Roberts, who has the responsibility to represent all of us.
The PSC rules on everything from water rates to the price of electricity to the service we get from our utilities. The consumer advocate, who is the head of the Consumer Advocate Division, is a critical person in our government.
Yet, I have not seen much media coverage of her appointment or her background. I must admit that I know little of Roberts and her vision for the office aside from the canned statements in the initial articles covering her appointment.
How does she plan to represent the citizens of West Virginia in an economy that, as she stated, is not robust? As she was appointed by the governor, is she going to represent the views of his office or will she be independently minded and represent the citizens of West Virginia?
She stated this position is a "good fit" for her and I am curious as to why? Is this due to her having political aspirations beyond this position or is she a skilled negotiator who can render positive results on behalf of consumers?
As we have recently learned, the PSC has approved the transfer of the Harrison Power Station and we consumers will have to pay for this transfer. Meager concessions for energy efficiency programs and some creative accounting provides the delusion that FirstEnergy is conceding a lesser profit which is misleading to consumers. This deal still primarily benefits FirstEnergy and their stockholders.
We need better advocacy on the part of the Consumer Advocate Division to win the best possible deals for West Virginians. FirstEnergy could create thousands of jobs and cut energy bills for consumers by aggressively expanding their energy efficiency programs beyond what they agreed to in the settlement that allows for the transfer of the Harrison Power Station.
Previous leadership in the Consumer Advocate office committed the consumers of West Virginia to an unfavorable agreement. Is the current leadership going to continue with the status quo? We assume the new leadership will engage in some type of negotiations to provide consumers with relief, and wonder if those negotiations will yield positive results for West Virginians?