By Charlotte Lane
Chair, West Virginia Public Service Commission
The Public Service Commission has scheduled several public comment hearings on various cases for this summer. Most of the hearings are for an electric rate case but there are hearings scheduled for gas and sewer cases as well.
During the pandemic, the Commission was unable to hold public comment hearings in person and relied instead on video conferences, online comments and letters to learn about your concerns. Commissioners Larrick and Raney and I are glad things are getting back to normal and are very much looking forward to seeing constituents in person as we travel around the state.
Public comment hearings give us the opportunity to meet face-to-face with you, the ratepayers. We often ask questions about customers’ personal experiences with the utility company. This gives us more insight into the real world problems and issues that customers face. In fact, we have often pursued questions from the bench at evidentiary hearings that stem from information and incidents we learned about during a public comment hearing. So, you see, what you say really does count and is taken into consideration while we strive to balance the interests of the state, the utility and the ratepayers, as the PSC is charged to do.
Our goal is to get as much feedback from the public as possible at public comment hearings. Your input is a critical element in our decision-making process, so the more people we hear from, the better. Most of our public comment hearings are well attended. Some have been standing room only. But we have also had occasions when no one showed up.
Here are a couple of tips to make the most of your time when speaking at a public comment hearing. First, either make notes or write out your comments. This will help you make sure you have included all the points you want to make and that you haven’t left out anything important. Remember that the court reporter is recording what you say for the official record, so please speak clearly.
I hope to see you at a public comment hearing this summer.