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NEW ORLEANS— Early voting for the December 5th runoff election ends Saturday, and one of the races yet to be decided is a seat on the commission that regulates utilities and telecommunications.

The race is for Public Service Commissioner and one candidate is the 12-year Republican incumbent, and the other is a Democratic newcomer.

Challenger Allen Borne Jr. is an attorney and he said, “The hard working families of Louisiana need an advocate on the Public Service Commission to fight for them for low cost, reliable and sustainable utilities.”

The incumbent, also an attorney, Eric Skrmetta, stands on his record of making a difference for ratepayers.

Skrmetta says, “We were 26th in the nation in rate ratings and over that time I’ve been able to lead the state forward to being the lowest residential rates in the nation, and for about 7 months now we’ve been the lowest industrial rates in the nation.”

It’s a race that got ugly during the primary as Skrmetta’s challengers accused him of accepting campaign contributions from the utilities that he regulates. A practice that is legal in our state.

According to Skrmetta, “All elected officials, of all kinds receive campaign contributions, but I would point out that immediately after taking office 12 years ago, the first thing I did was cut 150 plus million dollars out of executive compensation out of utilities.”

Borne pledges to take no money from utilities and says that such contributions are out of bounds.

“It takes away independent judgment when you’re making decisions that affect the consumers,” said Borne.

Borne also has designs on redirecting the focus of the commissioner’s seat, “To be more consumer-friendly and as well as steer it more toward green energy. Climate change is real and we’re at a tipping point”

For his part Skrmetta says that our state is already there, “We’ve been moving on the way of green energy, Louisiana has approximately 13 industrial scale solar fields and under development that will probably be in place by the end of next year.”