Next Tuesday, the legislatively controlled Public Utilities Review Committee (PURC) will perform the annual performance review of the Public Service Commission (PSC) – the board that regulates public utilities. State law requires the PURC – which also screens and nominates PSC members – to evaluate each PSC member to help lawmakers judge whether the energy regulators are acting in the public’s best interests. To that end, the performance reviews must be submitted to the General Assembly when completed.
While all of this sounds great in theory, past reviews have been little more than rubber-stamping of the commissioners’ performances – even during the ill-fated V.C. Summer nuclear construction project’s lifetime. As this week’s throwback highlights, as project costs were spinning out of control and completion deadlines were moving further out, the PURC – which includes six lawmakers – copy-pasted glowing language into the PSC’s performance reviews for several years straight.
It’s little wonder, perhaps, that the rest of the General Assembly claimed to be blindsided by the project’s collapse. Unfortunately, state law doesn’t contain any performance review process for the PURC itself.
Editor’s note: Several PSC members who are scheduled to be reviewed Tuesday were not on the commission when the following story was published. The list of current PSC members can be found here.
The S.C. Public Service Commission members who approved nine rate hikes for the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project have performed flawlessly in their six-figure jobs – at least in the eyes of the legislative committee that essentially controls them.
A review by The Nerve of annual work-performance reviews done by the State Regulation of Public Utilities Review Committee (PURC) for fiscal years 2014 through 2016 found the exact cut-and-paste glowing language for all seven PSC members.
Here’s the conclusion of each evaluation: “Based on surveys of persons appearing before the Commission and Commission employees, Commissioner (insert name) is courteous to all persons appearing before (him or her), is impartial in (his or her) treatment of persons appearing before (him or her), has a positive effect on employee morale, and is respected by attorneys and persons appearing before the Commission. The Review Committee’s review revealed no evidence of unethical behavior by Commissioner (insert name).”