|Louisiana Public Service Commissioner - District 1|
|Elections and appointments|
|Last election||November 4, 2014|
|Next general||December 6, 2014|
|Religion||Independent energy consultant|
- 1 Biography
- 2 Elections
- 3 Campaign donors
- 4 Recent news
- 5 Additional reading
- 6 See also
- 7 External links
- 8 References
Wright joined the 2014 race for the District 1 seat in the wake of accusations that incumbent Eric Skrmetta sought support for his re-election bid from the Gulf State Renewable Energies Industry Association in exchange for his support for more lenient rules on solar energy. Read more about these ethics concerns in the campaign issues section. Wright's campaign themes available here point out his concern over transparency of board activities and the influence of utilities on board votes.
Wright spent over 10 years working with Shell International Exploration and The Alliance for Affordable Energy prior to his 2014 campaign.
- Bachelor's degree, Tulane University
- Master's degree, Tulane University
|Public Services Commissioner of Louisiana, District 1, 2014|
|Republican||Eric Skrmetta Incumbent||37%||95,742|
|Republican||Allen "Al" Leone||24.6%||63,622|
|Election Results via Louisiana Secretary of State.|
Ethics concerns for Skrmetta
Eric Skrmetta (R) attracted attention and challengers for his November re-election bid after ethics concerns emerged in early August. The Times-Picayune published a report on August 5, 2014, detailing an email exchange between the commissioner and Andrew B. Ezell from the Gulf State Renewable Energies Industry Association. This exchange reportedly included a request by Skrmetta for the organization's support ahead of the November election in exchange for his vote in support of more lenient metering policies in Louisiana. Ezell sent the request to members of the association on August 2, only four days prior to commission hearings about lifting the state's limit on payments to consumers using solar panels.
Skrmetta denied wrongdoing or an exchange of favors with solar energy firms following the paper's report. He noted in The Times-Picayune that the commission needed to review metering policy due to concerns about the potential bankruptcy of an unnamed solar firm based in the state. He faced scrutiny from challenger Forest Wright (R) and fellow commissioner Foster Campbell (D).
Wright, an energy policy advocate based in New Orleans, cited Skrmetta's email as a motivation for his 2014 campaign. Wright and Skrmetta supported lighter regulations on solar installation firms, though Wright was concerned about the alleged quid pro quo involved in Skrmetta's email. He previously sought the District 2 seat on the board in 2012. Campbell, who won re-election to the District 5 seat, was vocal in opposing changes to existing metering policy and alleged that Skrmetta's behavior was "borderline illegal."
|Policy and Elections|
|Energy policy was a major issue in Louisiana. Find out more about Louisiana Energy policy.|
Net metering is a billing system where customers who generate their own electricity, usually using renewable sources, such as solar panels, are able to sell their excess electricity back to the grid. This requires electricity to be able to flow both to and from the consumer. According to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency "net metering is required by law in most U.S. states, but state policies vary widely." While many energy experts support net metering, there is debate over the price at which those generating excess power should be compensated. In some states, consumers are compensated at the full retail rate, while other states compensate individual producers at the wholesale rate. Retail electricity rates are the final prices paid by consumers and include the all the costs of that electricity, from generation to delivery. Wholesale electricity rates "include the cost of the fuel used to generate electricity and the cost of buying the power," but do not include the costs of transporting or delivering electricity.
- Proponents of net metering argue the system is beneficial because it promotes renewable energy and incentivizes consumers to produce their own electricity, which they argue is more efficient. Consumers are often drawn to this program because they can save money by generating their own electricity (as opposed to buying it from a utility company), and they can even receive credit back on their electricity bill for the excess electricity they generated.
- Opponents of net metering argue that customers who sell their electricity back to the grid at the full electricity price are not paying for the fixed costs associated with power generation, such as wires, poles, meters and other infrastructure. According to these opponents, consumers producing their own energy are often still using power supplied by a utility company when their own generation isn't sufficient. For example, on cloudy days those with solar panels must rely on the grid system for electricity. Instead, opponents argue that consumers should be paid the wholesale price for electricity.
In Louisiana, the commercial, residential and agricultural sectors can take advantage of net metering for solar, wind, biomass, hydroelectric, small hydroelectric, renewable fuel cells, geothermal electric and microturbines. Utilities in Louisiana pay the full retail rate for electricity generated from net metering, but once net metering purchases exceed 0.5 percent of a utility's retail peak load they no longer have to offer net metering. Entergy, which serves approximately 1.07 million electric customers in Louisiana, had already reached 75 percent of its 0.5 percent cap on net metering purchases by February 28, 2014.
Skrmetta earned the endorsements of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, the state Republican Party and the Louisiana Sheriff's Organization prior to the November election.
Commission as launching pad
The Louisiana Public Service Commission has served as a stepping stone to higher office in Louisiana. The following chart details past commissioners who eventually won election to the governor's office:
|Former commissioners who became governors|
|Name||Party||Commission service||Gubernatorial service|
|Jimmie Davis||Democratic||1942-1944||1944-1948, 1960-1964|
Wright's campaign website listed the following themes for the 2014 race:
For far too long, the Louisiana Public Service Commission has lacked a focus on actual public service. For the last 6 years, monopoly utility companies have been purchasing favor at the PSC through exorbitant campaign contributions. As customers see their energy bills go up and wonder why we don’t have better options for communications services, they don’t need to look any further than the cozy relationship between the PSC and the companies it’s supposed to be regulating. The fox has been guarding the henhouse for far too long, and Louisiana deserves better.
Forest Wright has spent nearly a decade fighting for public protection at the Public Service Commission. The public should never have to wonder whose side our elected officials are on. That’s why Forest has pledged to not take any campaign contributions from monopoly companies regulated by the PSC.
That’s also why Forest is continuing his fight for transparency at the PSC by promising that he will never restrict the public’s ability to participate in public meetings.
Louisiana is tired of the same old pay to play politics and we’re demanding better. Let’s send a message that our state is no longer for sale this November. Let’s elect Forest Wright to the Public Service Commission. 
—Forest Wright's campaign website, (2014), 
Wright ran for District 2 of the Louisiana Public Service Commission in 2012. He faced Scott Angelle (R), Erich Ponti (R), Sarah Holliday (R), and Greg Gaubert (no party affiliation) in the blanket primary on November 6, 2012. Angelle won the primary with more than the simply majority of the vote required to avoid a runoff.
|Louisiana Public Service Commission, District 2, 2012|
|Election Results Via: Louisiana Secretary of State|
Wright lost the election to the position of Louisiana Public Service Commissioner District 2 in 2012. During that election cycle, Wright raised a total of $45,128.
|Louisiana Public Service Commissioner District 2 2012 election - Campaign Contributions|
|Top contributors to Forest Wright's campaign in 2012|
|Forest G. Bradley-Wright||$4,000|
|Forest G. Bradley-Wright||$4,000|
|Total Raised in 2012||$45,128|
|Source:Follow the Money|
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Forest + Wright + Louisiana + Public + Service + Commission + elections"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- The Times-Picayune, "Forest Wright announces candidacy for Public Service Commission District 1 seat," April 6, 2014
- Louisiana Secretary of State, "PSC District 2 Candidate List," accessed October 25, 2012
- Wright for Louisiana, "About Forest," accessed September 15, 2014
- The Times-Picayune, "Email controversy ensnares Public Service Commission Chair Eric Skrmetta, solar proposal," August 5, 2014
- The Advocate, "Solar compromise offered," August 15, 2014
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, "Glossary," accessed October 22, 2014
- Edison Electric Institute, "Straight Talk About Net Metering," September 2013
- Solar Energy industries Alliance, "Net Metering," accessed October 22, 2014
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, "Louisiana Net Metering," October 19, 2014
- Entergy, "Net Metering for Renewable Energy Resources," accessed October 22, 2014
- Entergy, "About Us," accessed October 22, 2014
- The Times-Picayune, "Industry group backs Eric Skrmetta for Public Service Commission," September 15, 2014
- The Times-Picayune, "Public Service Commission finally getting interesting: Jeremy Alford," August 26, 2014
- Louisiana Secretary of State, "Find Results and Statistics," accessed September 18, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Wright for Louisiana, "What is the PSC?" accessed September 22, 2014
- Louisiana Secretary of State, "Candidate inquiry," accessed August 16, 2012
- Louisiana Secretary of State, "Complete election results," accessed November 7, 2012
State of Louisiana
Baton Rouge (capital)
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | State Treasurer | Superintendent of Education | Commissioner of Insurance | Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry | Secretary of Natural Resources | Executive Director of the Workforce Commission | Chairman of Public Service Commission |