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PSC member hopeful that new constitution wouldn't gut regulatory agency

3 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago Monday, June 17 2024 Jun 17, 2024 June 17, 2024 6:34 PM June 17, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — Public Service Commissioner Davante Lewis said Monday that giving his panel's regulatory role to others would be bad for the state's utility customers.

Speaking to the Baton Rouge Press Club, Lewis said that as Louisiana discusses adopting a new constitution, he would want to ensure that the Public Service Commission remains an independent body elected directly by the people.

"No offense to my dear friends in the Legislature, but I think we're having bills about how much solar (power) Entergy or CLECO could use, or bury this here, I don’t think we would have the attention to the rate impact," Lewis said. "One of the things we always look at is cost-benefit analysis. Is this a prudent investment?" 

He said he feared "dangerous bills that would not be able to be enacted correctly from a commission regulatory standpoint."

"So the most thing I can tell them to do is leave the commission alone if we rewrite the constitution," he said.

Lawmakers considered setting a constitutional convention for the summer but the measure failed to pass. It's still possible they could return to Baton Rouge to consider changes.

In his appearance before the Press Club, he also said he was concerned about the impact large data compilation centers could have on the state's energy grid. Such centers, including those used for artificial intelligence, use 10 to 50 times the power of a normal office building, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

"I am deeply concerned about the idea about the move to bring data centers and AI centers to Louisiana. They suck up a large chunk of energy," he said. "They typically then have those costs socialized among all of us, and could endanger our quest to move to more renewable energy here in this state.”

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