Having served for eight years as a commissioner on the California Energy Commission and for five years as a commissioner on the California Public Utilities Commission, I feel compelled to comment on the June 9 letter criticizing this state’s Public Service Commission.

The writer’s comments are right on target for several reasons. In rate hearings (with apologies to commission staff — CPUC and PSC) it becomes clear that the “expert” witnesses are those of the regulated utilities and not the commission staff.

These “experts” well know the in’s and out’s of electricity transmission, generation and distribution as well as natural gas transmission and distribution. It also helps that regulated utilities have competent lobbyists and the commissioners themselves are rarely knowledgeable about the industries they are elected or appointed to regulate.

Additionally, commissioners all too often want not only to regulate but also to be “fair” to the monopoly which, after all, supplies a necessary product to the consumer. The inevitable result of the current industry structure has been rate shock in many areas of this country.

The challenge is to make licensed monopolies more competitive so rate-payers benefit. Unfortunately, as seen by the colossal failure of electric utility restructuring in California, such attempts frequently result in more regulation and more hurt for the rate-payer.

Richard A. Bilas, Ph.D.

Oakhurst Drive

Mount Pleasant

Recently the dramatic rescue of three Cleveland women, held captive for an average of 11 years, held our attention for a number of days. Sadly, the injustice to these women and the terrible torture they endured have almost faded from our memories.

Every year thousands of children between the ages of 11 and 18 are duped into modern-day slavery — human trafficking. Though promised good jobs, they are held against their wills as workers and/or prostitutes, receiving little or no income. These children come from the U.S. as well as other countries. A million and a half of our own runaway/throwaway children are at risk at any given moment.

I am proud that South Carolina has passed one of the strongest laws against human trafficking in our nation. The next step is to find victims so they can be rescued.

Although a number of arrests and prosecutions of traffickers have been made in our state, law enforcement needs the help of observant citizens. We should look for darkened, shuttered or barred windows, high fences, guard dogs — anything suspicious.

Victims may work in people’s homes, nail or massage parlors, restaurants, farms or factories. Look for people who show signs of being controlled: bruised, burned, depressed, unable to speak or act for themselves. Anyone held against his will is a victim of human trafficking. Don’t express your suspicions. Just call law enforcement. They will investigate discreetly.

Keep the Human Trafficking Hotline number, 1.888.3737.888. in your cell phone directory.

Sister Mary T. Neal

Fort Johnson Road


“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” spoke President John F. Kennedy.

These words came to mind as I read the obituary of Thomas Griffin of Cincinnati, Ohio. He was born in Green Bay, Wis., and died at Fort Thomas, Ky., on Feb 26, 2013, at the age of 96.

He was one of the last four surviving members of the Doolittle Raiders who bombed Tokyo on April 18, 1942. The land-based bombers took off from an aircraft carrier in the Pacific with no means of returning, relying on their fuel to carry them over Japan to mainland China.

The mission was credited with lifting American morale more than any other action of the war. He parachuted and evaded capture, eventually returning to duty in the Army Air Corps.

What was amazing about Thomas Griffin was that he was later shot down over Italy and spent nearly two years in German prison camps.

Thomas Griffin most certainly lived up to the second half of President Kennedy’s famous quote.

Merrill D. Ridgway

McRoy Street

North Charleston

I feel compelled to point out a grievous error in Gene Sapakoff’s June 7 column regarding the South Carolina-North Carolina Super Regional series. I am referring to his comparison of the states’ barbecues.

Even the least sophisticated palate recognizes the heavenly flavor of hog meat that has been slowly roasted over an open pit of smoldering hickory (not oak) and finished with a sprinkle of vinegar-based sauce to brighten the flavor. This is prepared across the entire state of North Carolina and is not to be confused with the mustard-macerated mush that is called BBQ around this area.

John R. Nash Jr., M.D.

Middleton Point Lane

Edisto Island

Phew! I am relieved that our state legislators did not revise their ethics rules. I would hate to spend the next election year listening to their explanations of how their self-serving rules are OK for them but no one else.

Terry Tsurutis

Burningtree Road


Wonders never cease. SCE&G asks for yet another rate increase. As normally happens the rate hike, or some large part of it, will be granted by the Public Service Commission, the members of which are put in place by our legislators. But aren’t these the same legislators who failed in this legislative session, due to pressure from SCE&G, to pass bills allowing companies to assist homeowners in installations of solar panel?

Seems like a rather cozy arrangement.

Joe Sharpe

Kestrel Trail