The PSC is charged not only with setting rates for LUS but also, oddly, for making sure that those rates are higher (yes, higher) than what LUS might otherwise decide to charge. This oddity is in conflict with the most fundamental reason for the PSC's existence: to protect the consumer from monopoly-fueled overcharges. It emerges from the capture of the PSC by those it is supposed to regulate. Usually such "capture" takes place quietly and through the backroom persuasions of lobbyists and "influentials." But in this case it takes place through the more naked exercise of state power: law.
Act 793, last year's compromise bill that mitigated BellSouth's attempt to outlaw LUS' project, includes a clause that sends LUS to the PSC for regulation to ensure that the price LUS charges includes amounts tacked onto the "paper costs" that equal what the PSC (under heavy lobbying by its familiar friend BellSouth) can be convinced to believe is the cost of taxes, right-of-way fees, poles and anything else that can be construed to be an expense of a private company that a public utility does not pay. Notice that it is nonsensical to charge your citizen-customers for taxes, especially taxes to yourself that you do not pay. Notice that it is nonsensical to charge your citizen-customers for renting property you own. Notice that all this "extra" charge goes into the "in lieu of tax" category that opponents have tried to make into an issue...but that they don't bother to go after BellSouth or even mention that their ally has made what they ask for—"returning ILOT"— impossible.
All that is a fair chunk of what local BellSouth chieftain John Williams' father was worried about when he asked for delay until the PSC issued its rules:
BellSouth Louisiana Vice-President Tommy Williams told the commission Thursday it should wait for those rules to be finalized -- and for a third feasibility study on the project -- before approving the vote and bond issuance.
At issue, Williams said, is what he called "uncertainty" over the proper interpretation of a state law passed last summer.Williams pere apparently didn't talk about forcing faux costs on LUS, instead he referred to "uncertainty" over cross-subsidization; and it's true that those will be a weird and new thing for the PSC to consider since it is much more likely, in the usual run of events, to insist that profits from related ventures (like the profits from BellSouth's minority stake in Cingular) be considered when corporation apply to raise their rates at the PSC. But even the obscure reference to cross-subsidization doesn't really conceal much about what BellSouth actually hopes to do at the PSC. The PSC doesn't usually worry about being obligated to force higher costs on customers because they are disallowing a desire by a regulated company to invest in lower prices locally by using money from its other operations. In the normal run of events that would be considered a "good thing." But hey, preventing LUS from doing what the PSC would encourage BellSouth to do is what BellSouth's law forces them to do.
From the point of view of BellSouth it's all about the money. It's real interest in regulation at the FCC isn't "fairness," it is in using the state to artificially maintain as much of its current price as it can. It doesn't want to lower its prices; it wants to raise LUS'. What BellSouth will want to do at the PSC is force higher prices on LUS than it would otherwise consider. It is all about the money. What the corporations have come to regard as "their" money.
Don't let that slip by you the next time these guys come at you claiming to be doing something "for the taxpayers" or out of "concern for the citizens of Lafayette." That is, simply put, a lie. Their acts, if not their words, are all about insuring that the price you pay is as high as is possible. That's the real agenda and what you should remember when asked to believe anything that implies that they care about you or Lafayette.