While most people are talking about the Presidential race or the two U.S. Senate seats up for grabs, Georgia voters going to the polls in the November 3 General Election will also be casting their ballots for two members of the Georgia Public Service Commission – a position that impacts all Georgians directly in the wallet.
The District 1 race pits Republican incumbent Jason Shaw against Democrat Robert G. “Bobby” Bryant and Elizabeth Melton, a Libertarian.
Shaw, who was appointed to the commission in January 2019 by then Gov. Nathan Deal to fill a vacancy left by the retirement of Commissioner Doug Everett, told IAG he is running on his record.
“I am proud of the PSC’s approach to maintaining he right balance of diversified energy sources,” said Shaw. “While California and other states are facing many challenges, our approach is working here in Georgia. We continue to have reliable utilities and maintain low rates – and we are using a free-market model.”
According to Shaw, Georgia consistently has low rates. The state’s rate is currently 15 percent below the national average, and “that’s a benefit to all Georgians,” he added.
The Georgia Public Service Commission has exclusive power to decide what are fair and reasonable rates for services under its jurisdiction. Shaw says it must balance Georgia citizens’ need for reliable services and reasonable rates with the need for utilities to earn a reasonable return on investment.
Shaw says he is proud of the fact that Georgia has become known as a “solar friendly state” in the past few years, and of the direction the state is moving with biomass opportunities. “Other states are looking at our models and trying to replicate what we have been doing here in Georgia,” said Shaw. “Being from rural Georgia, I have seen first-hand the impact biomass has had on the economy here. Biomass plants have resulted in job creation in rural areas and it has been very important to the forestry industry.
Bryant, the Democratic nominee, has said he is focused on “clean, green and sustainable energy” to “avoid higher climate temperatures and create stronger careers.” He also promotes enhancing infrastructure and has said he wants to see accountability for pollution like coal ash.
Melton, the Libertarian candidate, describes herself on her website as a writer and mother. “As public service commissioner, my priority will be protecting the interests of the ratepayer, promoting environmental responsibility, and sharing a message of free market alternatives,” she wrote.
In District 4, Republican incumbent Lauren “Bubba” McDonald is running against Daniel Blackman, a Democrat, and Libertarian Nathan Wilson.
McDonald says he is seeking re-election because “Georgia needs an independent conservative voice on the Public Service Commission as Georgia continues to move forward with a diversified generation of energy.”
“When companies come looking to relocate their business in the state, they look at two things — what are our energy costs in Georgia and is the energy reliable?” said McDonald. “Georgia shines in both categories. You never have to worry about costs or reliability, and that’s important to all Georgians.”
Blackman says he is focused on strengthening utility assistance programs, securing the electrical grid against threats and championing cleaner, more efficient alternative energy sources. Wilson says his platform is “centered around the Reagan Republican platform of individual liberty, personal accountability, peace, tolerance, and free markets, challenges young people to rise to the occasion which now presents itself.”