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Who Pays for Delmarva/Bluewater Wind Debate

Michael McDowell

According to the Public Service Commissionís enabling legislation and according to prior Commission rulings developed since the 1970s, the PSC by law is only allowed to accept plant and capital that is used and useful in providing a service to a ratepayer. Consequently, any purveyor that comes before the Public Service Commission must pay the Public Service Commissionís bill for staff and commission hours, telephone bills, consultant bills as well as all other bills including advertising designed to spread misinformation by the State, Delmarva and Blue Wind. The Commission, by its prior rulings can not allow a purveyor to place in its rate base any costs not associated with used and useful assets. This was one of the strongest arguments concerning purveyors past failures in delivering water to water rate payers and resulted in placing purveyors under PSC supervision in the 1980s and 1990s. Basically it says as refined by the last major case in the late 1990s concerning Tidewater, that you can build a pump house out of gold, but it doesnít matter, thatís not the standard. The standard is clean, clear, safe drinking water at all times delivered in away that it can be used and useful and be available at all times. That ruling only applies to unincorporated areas of the State of Delaware. In fact that ruling removed the temporal limits of the PSC concerning rulings in different counties of the state.

The problem, here, is that the Carper/Minner administration and Minner/Carney administration and their self serving bureaucracy and the Governorís staff as well as Cabinet refuse to step up to the plate. Hereís a great example of the corrupt vision and power that they presume to possess, when Artesian built a water tower designed to only serve a toll plaza on Route 1, it could not be placed into the purveyorís rate base because it was not used or useful to the ratepayers. Therefore, it was ruled - to not allow the tower to be placed into the ratepayerís base, it would have been unfair to the rate payers and it would have violated standing PSC law. This did not stop politics as usual in Delaware, the Carper administration through Ann Canby, the then serving Transportation Secretary, assisted Artesian in getting a bill introduced to the House of Representatives which called for the PSC to include the lone water tower into the rate base for the purveyor. Remember, only plant and capital thatís used and useful are allowed in to a ratepayerís base and the full PSC must vote to approve it. There is a caveat, the state House of Representatives can pass a bill to have assets or costs included into a rate base by passing legislation thereby making something illegal, legal. Thatís what the Governorsí administration did when they lobbied to have the water tower placed into the rate payersí base. The House of Representatives passed the bill and the Senate passed the bill. Consequently, the Governorís office, staff, cabinet and the House of Representatives and Senate did not care about what is or was right, fair or appropriate. They levied the burden onto the rate payers and no one could stop the end of the legislative session bill from passing. In fact they supported it; so that they could demonstrate they had the power to help a long established company enrich itself at the expense of rate payers. Now is Artesian to fault, no Ė not at all, in fact it was the State that directed and contracted with Artesian to build the tower even though it would only allow the permitting of a toll plaza, which served the state and not the ratepayers. The State pressured everyone in order to get its way, regardless of any logic, reason, or belief in something right and appropriate. Who gained, only those offices that proved they have the ability to do what they want, dodge any responsibility and increase their power through their adroitness. There was no gain by any of the ratepayers and the purveyor, after being placed in an awkward situation was released by the arbitrary blind power of the offices of the State.

In this case both Delmarva and Blue Wind Energy have engaged in false and misleading promotional campaigns and are failing to justly and fairly serve the interests of the ratepayers. This administration has failed to step up to the plate and so have all of the state agencies, offices as well as the legislature. The present Public Service Commission is not fully independent of the influence of the current administration and lacks the backbone to fight the administration. Remember, the Public Service Commission is suppose to be independent as it was under the former Chair, Mr. McMahon in the last half of the 1990s. The problem is far more criminal even though it may not be illegal. This administration and itís behind the scene political bosses of both the Democrat and Republican Party are willing to use their influence and pressure people rather than recognize that there is an ethical line that exists between performing oneís duties and responsibilities as a public servant.

By PSC rulings and enabling legislation, they are prohibited from placing into a rate base anything not used or useful. Is economic development used and useful capital or plant? Can the rate payer rent the economic development or must the general population of the State through its representatives, senators and governor? This is only one of many failures. But keep in mind, this administration ran on the promise that their administration would be a continuation of the past administration. They had no thoughtful platform, just as most every representative and senator had no thoughtful platform. The concept is, those with influence those in the in crowd, can determine what happens and who gets hurt and how bad. They can create diversions and arguments in order to separate people and points of view in a way where they donít have to accept reasoned and logical arguments and empirical research. They can always pass a law because of the political landscape and the vested interests of those they deal with on a regular basis. If you are more willing to dig deeper then we have a better chance at advancing a positive change. The current legislative activity shows a willful disregard and disdain for the people of the state and nation.

Michael McDowell, Civic League Board Member

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