- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Democrat Foster Campbell strolled to a third term as north Louisiana’s representative on the Louisiana Public Service Commission, but commission Chairman Eric Skrmetta is in a runoff Dec. 6.

Complete but unofficial returns show Campbell defeated Winnfield attorney Keith Gates with 61.5 percent of Tuesday’s vote. Gates is a Republican.

Skrmetta, in his first term, faces fellow Republican Forest Bradley-Wright, who led a three-candidate field with 38.5 percent of the vote to Skrmetta’s 36.9 percent. Republican real estate broker Al Leone was third.

Bradley-Wright, a New Orleans energy consultant, is an advocate of alternative energy and got much of his campaign money from the solar industry. Skrmetta, from Metairie, has said that rapid growth of solar and other alternative sources could make other users pay more for utilities.

The Advocate reported in August (https://bit.ly/1uw2rfb ) that, according to a solar industry lobbyist, Skrmetta had agreed to support lifting a cap on the amount of solar energy which utilities must accept from later customers at a full kilowatt-for-kilowatt credit for later use - but wanted installation companies to back his campaign and not Bradley-Wright’s in exchange.



Skrmetta told the newspaper he had been working on a compromise for years. “Would I prefer not having an opponent? Well, of course. … I don’t need anything from anybody on that element,” he said.

The solar cap applies to utilities getting 0.5 percent or more of their peak energy from customers with solar panels. Three rural cooperatives have reached that limit and stopped giving solar customers full credit. Skrmetta and Commissioner Clyde Holloway have said if more solar power cuts utilities’ profits, the vast majority of customers who don’t have solar panels could pay higher rates.

The District 1 seat includes all or parts of Ascension, Jefferson, Livingston, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes as well as the city of New Orleans.

Campbell’s District 5 seat covers all of north Louisiana.

Campbell, of Elm Grove, told The News-Star (https://tnsne.ws/1plrkZN ) he will continue to advocate expanding the state’s “renewable portfolio,” particularly solar energy.

“Of course the companies like Entergy don’t like that because they want to sell you all of your electricity,” Campbell said. “But it’s too bad if they don’t like it.”

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