Bentz' Replacement: A Company Man

Sam Hall with the Clarion Ledger, quoted on the Cottonmouth Blogspot, correctly predicted Steve Renfroe’s appointment to the PSC: “Sources say that former Chevron executive Steve Renfroe will be tapped as the next public service commissioner for the southern district.
“Gov. Phil Bryant is scheduled to name his selection at 10 a.m. today at the Biloxi Visitor Center.” Hall repeated on this blog rumors heard coast wide that politicians hoping to run for office were balking at the opportunity to serve:
“Several names have been bandied about, the most common target being Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula. But the appointment is seen as a political hot potato with the likelihood of Mississippi Power seeking additional rate increases to cover overruns at the Kemper County coal plant they are building. The rate increases would affect South Mississippi customers represented by the public service commissioner.
Hall reported on Renfroe’s background as ”a public relations and public affairs executive with Chevron for 35 years before retiring in 2011. He has been active with Excel By 5, the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, the Pascagoula River Audubon Center and United Way for Jackson and George Counties.”
The Clarion Ledger’s Geoff Pender, also quoted at the Cottonmouth Blogspot, included this statement from Renfroe about the appointment: "I'm very honored to be appointed by Gov. Bryant. Integrity is all about keeping promises, and I promise to make decisions based on what's best for Mississippians. I appreciate the opportunity to help the commission navigate the next couple of years--and then--I look forward to returning to retirement. I will not run for election in 2015."
As Sierra Club member and Gulf Coast Group Chair in recent years, I have known Steve Renfroe to be an affable spokesperson for Chevron. He has always represented their interests without rancor but has never failed to in any way question the position his corporation has asked him to take. On a tour of the refinery, for example, many years ago, master naturalists were surprised to smell a strong petroleum odor emanating from the outfall canal at least 1/2 mile south of the refinery where effluent was dumping into the Mississippi Sound. I asked him why we were smelling petroleum outside the refinery and beyond their treatment ponds. “Smell? What smell?” was his reply. He is a company man through and through.
His decision to hold down this PSC position leads me to believe that Renfroe cares deeply for the political future of any politician who might have had to do this job in a very difficult time if he had not agreed to hold it through the next two years. Since he is not a politician, since he is comfortably retired, in my opinion, we will find that he is willing to do whatever is asked of him to see that the PSC follows the policy and goals sought by our currently serving governor, the wishes of the previous governor and whatever Mississippi Power thinks is best to protect that corporation.

Steve Shepard, President, Coast Group of the Mississippi Chapter of the Sierra Club

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