Saturday, September 28, 2013

A comfort in which witnesses can lie with impunity...

Trying to stop SWEPCO from building an EHV 345 kV power line through our community has opened my eyes. Regulators are friendly with the utilities just as used car dealers are friendly to the local car wash. You can't point to specific incidences of corruption, but you can sense the comfort they find in their familiarity... I have an editorial in our local paper this week, hoping to explain a few things to our local citizens. We are hoping that the Arkansas Public Service Commission hearing that I spent a week attending was not just a dog and pony show in which familiarity and comfort with the regulatory process substitutes for the value of evidence. In addition, I have unresolved questions about how the public comments hearing which was held in Eureka Springs would be used. The state law requires:
"(d) Furthermore, the General Assembly finds that there should be provided an adequate opportunity for individuals, groups interested in energy and resource conservation and the protection of the environment, state and regional agencies, local governments, and other public bodies to participate in timely fashion in decisions regarding the location, financing, construction, and operation of major facilities." (emphasis mine)
And so the questions arise: How exactly will the Public Service Commission use what it has learned? Will it simply use the public hearing to claim it fulfilled a portion of Arkansas law? The only possible way for the Public Service Commission to come out of this undamaged and without the appearance of having used the concerned citizens of Eureka Springs as exhibits in a regulatory dog and pony show will be for them to rule against the utility company. Our attorney is working on briefs that must be submitted on Tuesday.

I am looking forward to resolution of this case, allowing me to devote all my time to teaching and woodworking. Today I'll take workbenches to Eureka Palooza, our Clear Spring School family music festival, and will spend some time woodworking with kids.

Make, fix and create...

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