The commission has exclusive power over consumers’ telecommunications, electric and natural gas services. Its duty is to balance the service needs of Georgia’s residents with the financial needs of the utility, according to its website. District 3 includes Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton and Rockdale counties.
Republican incumbent Chuck Eaton, 43, of Buckhead, calls himself a “common-sense conservative.” He said his goal is “to continue to make our race as competitive as possible and to provide competitive, reliable and safe energy to Georgians.”
To do that, he said he is going to “try to deal” with Environmental Protection Agency regulations coming from Washington, which he described as “burdensome.”
“I want to diversify a little more and move away from coal especially,” he said.
He said his six years experience as commissioner, combined with a background in manufacturing and a degree in accounting, gives him a “unique appreciation for a need for a competitive energy crisis.”
Additionally, he is currently in his last year in law school Georgia State University, where he takes night classes.
“What we do is practice administrative law for the Public Service Commission,” he said. “Personally, it was the right thing to do to make myself a better commissioner.”
Democratic candidate Steve Oppenheimer, 57, of Sandy Springs, is a retired dentist who said he would be “an independent common sense voice for Georgia families.”
Oppenheimer said three of his main goals are to reduce power rates, ban gifts from lobbyists and grow good paying energy jobs in the state.
“First thing, I want to restore the professional advocate on the Public Service Commission that was removed in 2008 because Georgia families and small businesses have no professional representation now,” he said. “I want to make the commission operate with more transparency.”
Oppenheimer said he has been heavily involved in serving his community, at his children’s schools and community-wide organizations.
“In the last eight years, I have been working on energy security as it relates to eliminating [the] oil monopoly as a transportation fuel,” he said. “I began work with that with a Washington think tank, the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. For the last three years, I’ve been a task force coordinator with Clean Cities Atlanta, the [U.S.] Department of Energy program.”
The youngest of the three candidates, Brad Ploeger, 30, of Grant Park, is a Libertarian who said he wants to “take a step” to help create a “comprehensive long-term strategy for energy” into Georgia.
“I want to look further into the future and set goals we can meet,” he said.
Ploeger owns a small business, Arkturis Inc., an information technology firm, which he said helps him to understand how commission decisions affect the economy, ratepayers and Georgians in general.
“The number one hurtle would obviously be ethics reform,” he said. “I do believe the PSC should be held to a higher standard than even the governor is in the state. It’s more insulated. There is a six-year term. … We are charged to offer the best interest to ratepayers.”