On December 1, 2014, Eric Skrmetta made a surprising allegation on his Facebook page against Forest. He argued that Little Gypsy was a great project that failed because of Forest, leaving the public with a $200 million bill.
Here’s the truth:
The reason ratepayers are on the hook for $200 million resulting from the Little Gypsy boondoggle comes down to two well documented facts:
- The project was not economically feasible, as is clearly demonstrated in the record for LPSC docket (U-30192-E)
- The Commission unwisely shifted the financial risk for the project from the utility company to customers using a mechanism called Construction Work in Progress (over the strenuous opposition of consumer advocates). This risk should never have been shifted from shareholders to the public and Forest opposed it then and would oppose anything like it in the future as Public Service Commissioner. The conventional standard for charging power plant costs to consumers is that the project must be used and useful (ie. generating energy that is required to meet existing demand). The Little Gypsy conversion project was neither used nor useful, in fact it never delivered any energy at all. Eric Skrmetta voted to charge customers $200 million despite the fact that the project was an economic boondoggle.
One last point of note:
As a result of this failed project, and hard work by Forest, numerous stakeholders, and the Commission, there are now rules in place that increase utility transparency and accountability for decisions on new power plant projects (known as the Integrated Resource Plan) to prevent future boondoggles from happening again. If properly applied these new rules will ensure we never get stuck bailing out a utility company for another failure like Little Gypsy.
Once again Eric Skrmetta is lying. Check the facts. They are clearly on display in the public record of this docket, and because of Eric Skrmetta consumers are paying an additional $200 million price for his decisions.
—> And just for additional clarification, this decision did not involve “closing a plant” it was a repowering conversion to change an existing power plant that burned natural gas to instead burn coal and petroleum coke. It is therefore nonsense to say that if the plant had “stayed open” 150 jobs would have been saved. Similarly it would seem that the “hundreds of millions of dollars for our local economy” are the very same dollars that were thrown away on the boondoggle that we are now in fact paying for. Skrmetta’s claim to personally and individually have saved ratepayers $100 million is ludicrous.