Regulation works 

The individual consumer is no match for a giant utility. His government is his equalizer. A few years back, the legislature succumbed to special interests (again) and surrendered the people’s defense, enacting legislation to end state regulation of electricity. After the Enron explosion, the lawmakers reversed course and re-regulated. Friday’s order from the state Public Service Commission shows the wisdom of that decision.

Entergy, Arkansas’s biggest power company, had asked the PSC to approve a $106.5 million rate increase, and a return on equity of 11.25 percent. Instead of agreeing that Entergy wasn’t making enough money, the PSC found it was making too much. The commissioners ordered a rate reduction of $5.67 million, and approved a return on equity of 9.9 percent. The shock in the Entergy office must have been severe. A fly on the wall would have gotten an earful, no doubt.

In the order, the PSC denied Entergy requests to recover certain expenses from its customers. The Commission reduced by more than $21 million the amount of incentive pay and stock options proposed for Entergy executives, and it rejected outright Entergy’s request that its customers pay for entertainment expenses that included tickets to sporting events and concerts, golf balls and golf tournaments, and dinners and alcohol for political figures. Dick Cheney will shed bitter tears that an American energy company could be treated this way.

We don’t know how much of the credit for this decision belongs to the commission’s new chairman, Paul Suskie, and how much to the other two commissioners, Sandra L. Hochstetter and Daryl E. Bassett. But we remember that when Suskie was appointed by Gov. Mike Beebe early this year, there was speculation that the Commission might become more pro-consumer. Unlike some commissioners, Suskie had no utility connections. He had held elective office, and, it was said, might seek it again. Mention of Suskie requires mention of Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who opposed the Entergy request, and who, coincidentally, defeated Suskie in last year’s election. No problem. There’s sufficient glory to go around.

Behind Bulgaria

The Associated Press reports that the last three dancing bears in Bulgaria have been retired through the efforts of animal-welfare activists. Dancing bears are trained in a particularly cruel manner, painful rings put through their noses when they’re young to ensure submission, then forced to walk on burning embers and jump from one foot to another to lessen the pain. Even Bulgaria no longer tolerates such barbaric treatment of animals. If those bears’ owners had brought them to Arkansas, where the Farm Bureau blocks animal-cruelty laws, the animals might still be enduring torture, perhaps performing at a Farm Bureau convention.


Sign up for the Daily Update email


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Most Viewed

  • Trade places

    I confess that over the years I've wished a fall from grace upon a number of people. I've come to call it the "Trading Places Award." The recipient is someone who has shown no compassion or empathy for someone else in a tough situation.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Now, the main event

    • Good article and an accurate observation of the inconsistencies in Gov. Asa Hutchinson's words and…

    • on May 24, 2018
  • Re: Flooding the swamp

    • Nations who negotiate sweet deals with the US pharmaceutical companies are only able to do…

    • on May 24, 2018
  • Re: Like wrestling

    • Trump's policies to help a financially failing US Postal Service are nothing compared to the…

    • on May 24, 2018

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation