The Alabama Public Service Commission kicked off a meeting on power rates last week with a prayer against gay marriage and reproductive rights. John Delwin Jordan, who was at the meeting to testify on behalf of the Prattville Tea Party, opened up the meeting in prayer after receiving a laudatory introduction by Twinkle Cavanaugh, the head of the PSC.
After asking attendees if they believed in the power of prayer, Jordan concluded his prayer by lamenting, “We’ve taken you out of our schools; we’ve taken you out of our prayers; we’ve murdered your children; we’ve said it’s OK to have same-sex marriage, God. We have sinned.”
Birmingham News columnist John Archibald writes that the sectarian, political prayer may have helped Cavanaugh frame the debate over the PSC’s pro-corporate bent:
She gets – and Alabama Power gets – exactly what they want. They want the issue lost in passionate belief, an ideological tussle designed to pit tree-huggers against coal miners, conservationists against those concerned with jobs, liberals against conservatives.
Which is the best reason to remember what these hearings are about.
They are about Alabama Power’s rate structure. Period. It is a structure – though debated to near incomprehension at these hearings – that is high for residential customers and low for industry. It allows the company to write off an $8 million salary for CEO Charles McCrary as Operations and Maintenance, at a government-regulated monopoly.
It lets the company take a return on equity 30-40 percent higher than the national average, according to testimony today that was not disputed, and allows it to take hundreds of millions in higher profits that could be saved by ratepayers and pumped back into the economy.