The Georgia Public Service Commission is a five-member constitutional agency that exercises its authority and influence to ensure that consumers receive safe, reliable, and reasonably-priced telecommunications, electric and natural gas service from financially viable and technically competent companies. The current slate of five commissioners are all Republicans.
Who is most impacted?
Many PSC issues boil down to who pays customers or shareholders. Georgia Power is required, per agreement with the PSC, to provide a minimum shareholder return of 10%. That has led the current PSC to allow Georgia Power to send higher bills to customers (Augusta Chronicle).
“The PSC is by far the most important commission in Georgia when it comes to your money,” said William Perry of the Georgia PSC Accountability Project in a voter education video about the commission. “It’s made up of five politicians who regulate utilities. They’re supposed to represent you when deciding how much you have to pay for your electricity, natural gas and telecom services.”
Most importantly for many, the PSC approves the rates and fees Georgia Power charges and how the regulated monopoly produces electricity. Over the last decade or so that’s meant a focus on protecting and supporting the only ongoing expansion of nuclear power generation in the Georgia at Plant Vogtle.
Public Service Commissioners, are paid $118,781 per year, serve staggered six-year terms so that at most two commissioners are on the ballot in any election year, (Heather Pohnan).
Jason Shaw, Commissioner, District 1
James S. “Jason” Shaw Jr., a native of Lanier County, was appointed to the Public Service Commission by Governor Nathan Deal and was sworn in on January 3, 2019. Shaw states his goal to “Diversify energy sources with new and renewable technologies.” Shaw has supported increasing the state’s biomass capacity. He voted for the deployment of solar as a Commissioner, and continues to support solar. Shaw supports plant Vogtle and called it “an important part in Georgia’s plan to provide safe and reliable energy for a growing state.”
Tim Echols, PSC Vice Chairman, District 2
Echols ran for and was elected to statewide office in 2010 serving as Public Service Commissioner. The PSC’s primary job is energy regulation. When Echols took office, Georgia was 34th in solar power. Now, 9 years later the state is 10th in the nation in approved solar. In 2020, Conservatives for Clean Energy dubbed Echols the “Solar Architect of Georgia.” Mr. Echols has a tour that he travels around the state and discusses how clean energy works. In 2009 the Commission approved certification of two new units at Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant. The commission continues to make decisions about whether company shareholders or customers will pay for the ballooning cost of this project, which is years behind schedule and billions overbudget.
Fitz Johnson, Commissioner, District 3
Johnson will replace the outgoing commissioner George Eaton on the all-Republican, five-member commission and was chosen by Gov. Kemp who also gave Eaton a judgeship in the Atlanta Judicial Circuit Court, replacing Shawn Ellen LaGrua who now serves on the state Supreme Court. This is a lot of unchecked power that “We The People” allow when we do not vote, and these positions directly affects our everyday lives. Johnson ran as a Republican last year for the Cobb County Commission, narrowly losing to Democrat Jerica Richardson. I honestly feel that he is the one to watch and track his record of performance on behalf of the people or the PSC stockholders.
Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Commissioner, District 4
McDonald, who served 20 years as a state Representative, was appointed to the Commission in June 1998 by Governor Zell Miller to fill a vacated post and then re-elected in a special mid-term election in November 1998. Energy Equity and Energy Burden, the blogger was unable to confirm the candidate’s position on this energy-related issue in published media, public records, or the campaign website.
However, McDonald is a consistent supporter of nuclear energy, calling it the “best friend” and “best partner” for solar. He has consistently voted in favor of continuing construction of Plant Vogtle’s Units Three and Four. When asked about nuclear, he said, also stating, “ it’s foolproof.” It’s amazing… nuclear has got to expand.” McDonald has supported solar over fracked gas.
Tricia Pridemore, PSC Chairwoman, District 5
Pridemore was appointed to the PSC by former Governor Nathan Deal and backed by Georgia Power, with endorsements like these she had the position without any opposition. Pridemore has worked on, lowering the cost of landline telephones in Georgians homes from 6% to 3.75%,. and of course, the Plant Vogtle project which continues to raise our power bills, is the only clean energy project that is taking place in Georgia that is being funded by the taxpayers.
November’s ballot will have two PSC positions for your vote. Please do your Due Diligence and find out who these people are and if they represent your wishes and wants. Next month I will share a grade for each commissioners performance and your reactions to this story. Please share your comments, I would love to hear from you.
State Of Georgia Public Service Commission, website, https://psc.ga.gov/about-the-psc/commissioners.
Pohnan, H., (December 18, 2020), Where the Candidates Stand On Energy: Complete Series, Clean Energy, blog,
Just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics will not take an interest in you…Pericles
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