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Setting stakes excessive in race for Louisiana utility seat – The Washington Submit


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BATON ROUGE, La. — The election for Louisiana’s obscure regulatory physique sometimes receives little consideration regionally, however this 12 months has caught the attention of nationwide media outlets, celebrities, political action committees and public utility companies.

Lambert Boissiere III, who has comfortably held a seat on Louisiana’s Public Service Fee for 18 years, faces his hardest reelection Saturday in a runoff in opposition to newcomer Davante Lewis.

Environmentalists have more and more centered on the fee, which regulates energy firms and units electrical charges, in a state that has a entrance row seat to the results of local weather change. Louisiana has been riddled by damaging hurricanes making landfall extra continuously, coastal areas have been eaten away by erosion, subsidence and rising sea ranges and, most just lately, the Mississippi River reaching record low water ranges.

Moreover, Louisiana shares its southern border with the Gulf of Mexico and has tens of 1000’s of jobs tied to the oil and fuel trade. In 2021, Louisiana ranked third among the many prime pure gas-producing states — accounting for practically 10% of the USA’ pure fuel manufacturing that 12 months, behind solely Texas and Pennsylvania.

For years, the fee has resisted calls to mandate that energy firms get a sure share of their energy from renewables, The Advocate reported. However activists are hopeful their stance will change.

The winner of the election will serve a six-year time period representing a district that stretches from Baton Rouge to New Orleans on the five-member fee, which has regulatory jurisdiction over public utilities offering electrical, water, wastewater, pure fuel and sure telecommunications companies in Louisiana.

Boissiere, 57, was first elected in 2005 and hopes to safe a fourth time period. Lewis, a 30-year-old progressive coverage advocate, says it’s time for a “new technology of leaders.”

Each candidates are Democrats with corresponding priorities — together with increasing Louisiana’s renewable vitality. Nonetheless, irrespective of the result of the runoff, Republicans will nonetheless characterize a majority on the fee, 3-2.

Regardless of Lewis and Boissiere having related views, main utility firms and outdoors political motion committees have poured lots of of 1000’s of {dollars} into the race.

Maintain the Lights On, an affiliate of the Environmental Protection Fund, has spent cash within the hopes of unseating Boissiere. As well as, the incumbent obtained marketing campaign contributions from utility firms that the fee regulates, together with Entergy, Louisiana’s largest energy firm. Whereas a majority of these contributions are authorized in Louisiana, it has been closely scrutinized.

In November’s main, when there have been 5 candidates, Boissiere obtained 43% of the vote — falling wanting topping the 50% threshold wanted to win outright. Lewis recieved 18%.

Louisiana’s election polls are open Saturday from 7 a.m. till 8 p.m.

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