Lawsuit filed after recording banned at utility rate hearing

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A lawsuit filed Thursday accuses the Alabama Public Service Commission of violating the Open Meetings Act by preventing audience members from recording a recent hearing.

The lawsuit was filed by Laura Casey, a Democratic candidate for PSC president. Casey was one of three people ejected from the hearing last month for recording or live-streaming. The case asks for a court declaration that the utility regulatory commission violated the state’s Open Meetings Act which allows the recording of public meetings. It also asks for a fine.

The hearing centered on a challenge to fees charged by Alabama Power on customers who use solar panels, or other means, to generate part of their own electricity. The meeting was open to the public as the three PSC members sat and heard testimony about why they thought the fees were or weren’t justified. The commission has not announced a decision.

Administrative Law Judge John Garner told audience members during the hearing that they couldn’t record because it was a legal proceeding. The ejected audience members were told they could return only if they agreed to stop recording.

The lawsuit names the commissioners as defendants.

Republished with the Permission of the Associated Press.