Louisiana’s Public Service Commission may perform an audit of Lafayette Utilities System.
Chairman Eric Skrmetta placed the item on Wednesday’s meeting agenda. No details were immediately available about what prompted the proposed directive, and Skrmetta could not be reached for comment on Tuesday evening.
LUS Director Terry Huval said an audit would be to ensure market rates are charged across the board, including in the sale of LUS Fiber services to the utilities system and to Lafayette Consolidated Government.
"The purpose of the audit is just to be sure that the price that we’re charging to LUS, the utilities system, and LCG, are consistent with the prices that we charge to other customers," Huval said.
Huval said that outside of required annual audits, this would be the third audit of the municipal-owned system since it established its telecommunications arm, LUS Fiber, in 2008.
"The Public Service Commission has the authority to audit us from time to time as they see fit because we are a telecommunication system. We have had two previous audits before, the last one ended in 2012. So apparently they are going to be deciding tomorrow whether it’s a good time to have one now. So nothing really triggers the audit, its just the right that the LPS has to be able to ask us to go through an audit and we are agreeable to do so," Huval said.
The PSC performed audits for the years 2008-10 and 2011-12, the latter of which took almost two years to complete, Huval said.
Commissioners will also discuss and possibly vote to hire Henderson Ridge Consulting to assist with the audit. PSC records show it’s a Georgia-based company that’s performed work for the commission before.
Lawmakers passed the Local Government Fair Competition Act in 2004 to enable the telecommunications business but also restrict it, including provisions that require it to charge market rates and prohibits it from cross-subsidizing its services with tax dollars.
The law also authorizes the PSC to perform periodic compliance audits.