There's only one thing Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh has to say to allegations of inappropriate ties to utility companies.
"I can flat out deny that."
Cavanaugh says electing to do public hearings instead of a formal, in-depth review of rates has nothing to do with protecting the interests of the companies she regulates--and more to do with protecting you.
"Go ahead and have a public process, put it in the public view, let everyone that wants to participate, participate and then come out with a finding. Let's vote on it and let's get it implemented quickly."
Cavanaugh says a formal review is a judicial proceeding which could get bogged down in court, stalling any new rate implementation and any financial relief for customers.
She admits relief could come from the first public hearing conducted for Mobile Gas Company.
"Even the company has put forth a lower number. I think it's gonna be a lower number."
When it comes to the public hearings, even they are new.
Cavanaugh says negotiations used to be done behind closed doors.
"We are shining the light of day on the process."
It's all part of a push for transparency and honesty Cavanaugh says she began her first day in office--passing commissioners' ethics standards.
"That ethics policy basically says we cannot take contributions or anything from a regulated entity here at the commission, from their lobbyists, or from their legal teams or employees."
Cavanaugh says if the public hearings fail to result in a fair and accurate rate for each of the three utility companies, she will support a formal, judicial review.
Commissioner Terry Dunn originally requested the formal review and reached out to the Attorney General to request the review.
The Attorney General urged Dunn to work with his fellow commissioners and said he would not get involved.
Alabama Power's public rate hearing is set for Wednesday, May 8th at the Public Service Commission downtown.
Those wishing to speak must submit a written request by the close of business Monday.
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