The Arkansas Public Service Commission held a hearing today to decide whether the Sierra Club, Audubon Arkansas and Citizens Advancing Reasonable Rates (or CARR) will be able to intervene in future rate cases that come before the commission. Currently, private individuals and companies like Walmart can participate in such cases. Today, the aforementioned advocacy groups tried to make the case that their interests would not be adequately represented by PSC staff or the attorney general’s office. The AG usually intervenes on behalf of the citizens of Arkansas.
Attorneys for SWEPCO and the PSC staff argued against the inclusion of the Sierra Club, Audubon and CARR, saying the public already has a chance to participate in such cases by submitting comments and such. I don’t know but it seems to me that they’re argument contradicts any social studies book I ever learned from in school. People form groups to represent their interests, because the average Joe, beside having to work every day from 8-5, doesn’t have enough time to research every issue or hire a lawyer to testify before the PSC. It simply seems like an effort to keep more informed input out of the process. Consumer and environmental groups are allowed to participate in similar rate cases in other states.
Attorneys for SWEPCO and the PSC staff also tried to make the case that the true intention of the groups was not to participate in rate-making cases but to re-evaluate the need for the Turk plant in the first place. The advocacy groups argued that re-evaluating the economic viability of the plant and taking into account the on-going construction cost is relevant to setting rates. Representatives from the attorney general’s office seemed to agree. The AG’s office has withdrawn their earlier objection to the groups’ intervention.
The commission did not make a ruling today. The groups petitioning to intervene hope to get a ruling in the very near future.