AG refuses to step in to PSC controversy

AG refuses to step in to PSC controversy

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Attorney General Luther Strange states why he isn't getting involved in PSC controversy. Attorney General Luther Strange states why he isn't getting involved in PSC controversy.
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Another effort to request a formal review of the state's utility rates falls on deaf ears.

You'll remember Public Service Commissioner Terry Dunn requested an in-depth rate review months ago to make sure Alabamians were paying fair prices.

It wasn't granted and now the request is in the hands of the Attorney General.

A four page letter arrived at Attorney General Luther Strange's office Friday--yet another attempt by Dunn to prompt a formal review of utility rates for Alabama Power, Alabama Gas Corporation and Mobile Gas Service Corporation.

The letter criticizes the PSC's current public hearing process which started in January.

Dunn says it is ambiguous and "would be cured if the PSC undertook a formal rate case for each utility."

But Attorney General Luther Strange doesn't plan to step in right now.

"My position has really been that it's the Public Service Commission's job to set their own procedures and then to do their job which is to make sure rates are just and reasonable for the citizens."

That doesn't mean his office isn't keeping a close eye on the commission's actions.

"Our job is to make sure interests of the consumers are protected and we've been participating in these informal proceedings and we have our own experts," says Strange.

Reports suggest Alabama's rates are higher than those of neighboring states.

Strange says a formal review is not out of the question.

In fact, PSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh recently admitted she may not be opposed to it, either, but wants to finish the informal hearings, first.

"If at the end of the whole process, which is their job, we find that something is not acceptable then we would be in a position to do something about it," says Strange.

Questions have been raised if some commissioners have ties to the utility companies and if that could play a role in the refusal of a formal review.

"I have no knowledge of anything like that and I certainly wouldn't suggest that," says Strange.

Both Alabama Power and Alagasco say they're prepared to do whatever the PSC instructs them to do and have no position on the 'formal review' discussions.

Alabama Power representatives say they're prepared to state their case with the PSC during their upcoming public hearing, May 8th.

The Attorney General does have the authority to ask the PSC to conduct a formal review of utility rates.

However, he is asking Commissioner Dunn to attempt to work with his fellow commissioners.

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