Opinion: Your Voice Counts

By Charlotte Lane

West Virginia Public Service Chair

Everyone wants his/her voice to be heard – especially in matters that have a direct impact on his/her daily lives and their budgets.  When the Public Service Commission is considering the various aspects of a case that will affect the general public, we want to hear what you have to say.

Charlotte R. Lane

The public is welcome to comment on any case that comes before the Commission.  You can send us a letter or submit comment on our website at: www.psc.state.wv.us.  When a case generates a lot of widespread interest the PSC schedules public comment hearings.

Public comment hearings give me and my fellow Commissioners a chance to meet face-to-face with individuals to hear their concerns and suggestions in a much more direct manner.  They also provide an opportunity for us to converse with and ask questions of the affected customers.  We’ve held several public comment hearings lately because we find it to be a meaningful experience to everyone who participates.

People often ask how we determine where public comment hearings will be held, or they complain when there is no hearing close to their home.  Unfortunately, we can’t visit every area of the state.  We try to choose centrally located sites to allow as many people as possible to attend.

Once we have settled on a locality, we estimate how many people will attend and find an accessible venue that will accommodate all of them.  The venue must provide audio equipment so everyone can be heard.  If you attend a public comment hearing, your remarks will be taken down by the court reporter, and the transcript will be an official part of the case file, so there must be an area for the court reporter to work.  The Commission frequently uses courthouses because they are already set up in the configuration we need. But we have also held hearings in civic centers, school auditoriums, armories and even fire stations.

Public comment hearings represent the Commission’s best opportunity to make a personal connection with the citizens we serve.  I hope that you will participate the next time a public comment hearing is scheduled in your area.

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