Public Service Commissioner visits Covington

COVINGTON - On a visit to Covington on Friday, Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton said there's "no light at the end of the tunnel" for consumers affected by rising natural gas costs.

"Domestic resources are starting to dwindle, and we're limited to where we can drill," Eaton said.

The country is becoming more dependent on importing liquid natural gas, and prices are skyrocketing in countries like India and China due to growth and competition for resources, he said.

Natural gas remains the most relied upon fuel source because plants are cheaper and less risky to build than alternatives, he said.

There is debate over whether climate-change legislation being considered by Congress that would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent by the year 2050 will increase natural gas prices even more.

"I'm not an economist, but I don't see a light at the end of the tunnel," Eaton said.

Eaton was in Covington on Friday to learn more about the local gas system. The Public Service Commission does not regulate municipal gas systems, but resolves territorial disputes between municipal providers.

"We've had no issues with Covington, but in municipalities where there is growth like there has been in Covington, there can be friction," he said. "We have to make sure we don't have a Wild West kind of situation."

Eaton, who was elected in 2006, is traveling to various municipalities to learn more about territories the Public Service Commission influences.

Following a meet-and-greet with Mayor Kim Carter and other city officials, and a brief presentation on the gas system, Eaton took a tour of the city before heading to Madison, another municipal gas city.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.