A Free-Market Energy Blog

A Blessed Day in the Life of a State Utility Commissioner

By -- July 12, 2017

Dear Diary,

I just had a wonderful day creating economic development and protecting the people of our good state.

The day started normally with a power company’s chief lobbyist showing up at my office with Starbucks, a bouquet of flowers, and a box of chocolates. He is such a good friend. He says he even thinks of me as a father figure!

The latest stack of consumer complaints was on my desk, and we spent awhile laughing at them. People can be so silly!

Then I got down to business. A man who gave $250 to my election campaign wants electricity for his fishing shack down on the river. He and his drinking buddies spend a few weekends there a year. The power company says it will take more than $50,000 to run power through the swamp, and they want him to pay for it.

I told the power company’s lobbyist that everyone deserves to have electricity. Besides, the spending will stimulate the economy. He told me he would take care of it and they will hide the cost in their next rider that comes up for approval. I assured him that I’d vote for the rider as proposed.

Next on our agenda: an important presentation I’m giving at a luxury hotel at the beach in a few weeks. My friend will help me there.

This power company, by the way, has a dossier on how much money they can raise for my re-election fund. They will also be arranging contributions from other companies they do business with. Power company employees who know which side their bread is buttered on will be making generous contributions. This should give me plenty of money to beat any reform-minded candidate. (BTW the generosity of the power company’s employees is painless, as they just pad their travel expenses in order to cover this very important cost of doing business.)

Maybe the highlight of the day was the call I got from the Governor’s office. After chatting a bit, I was asked how things were going about implementing his Squeaky Clean Energy Plan. I told the aide that we had just pushed through two industrial wind projects. He was pleased and indicated that this would help with the Governor’s fundraising.

I went to lunch in the state cafeteria, and my table was filled with admiring staff members. Positive vibes are a good thing in my corporate culture.

A good conversation over lunch today was with a member of the commission’s Public Staff. We couldn’t help but laugh at the irony that the public was paying him to get up and repeat applicant marketing propaganda at our commissioner meetings. (It’s amazing how few of the public actually realize how they are being duped.)

A lot of big shots in state government came over to my table to speak to me. I couldn’t help but think that I’m really an important person.

In the afternoon, I met at length with the Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs from the gas company. They are having trouble because the Securities and Exchange Commission has joined the regulatory staffs of the states they operate in by complaining about their program of shifting money to the unregulated subsidiary of their holding company.

He handed me a nice speech to give at the next Utility Regulators’ conference where I will defend states’ rights and call for federal regulators to leave regulation of local utilities to those of us who know them best.

Another good day. Everyone is so nice. What a great job! The ratepayers are lucky to have me.


[Original idea for this post came from South Carolina energy consultant Jim Clarkson.]


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