Public Service Commission races, contributions to Stan Wise warrant scrutiny
by Don McKee
Columnist
July 27, 2012 01:23 AM | 5449 views | 7 7 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
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The TSPLOST is getting all the attention but there are other important decisions to be made next Tuesday including two races for the state Public Service Commission.

This came home to me with two robocalls in the past couple of days. The first was from Gov. Nathan Deal touting Chuck Eaton for re-election to the PSC. Eaton, of Atlanta, formerly a manufacturer account executive, is seeking his second six-year term. At least Deal didn’t trash Eaton’s challenger, Matt Reid of Decatur, a Georgia Tech grad and consulting engineer.

But a mailer from Eaton arrived charging that Reid is a virtual Democrat in Republican clothing with a record of voting Dem and giving $250 to Barack Obama’s campaign four years ago, documented by GOP campaign consultant and pollster Todd Rehm, editor of GaPundit.com.

The second robocall came from Newt Gingrich who began with: “I’m still humbled to have won Georgia Super Tuesday.” Newt humbled? But he made his point. Then he said, “Today I’m calling to ask you to vote for my good friend Stan Wise,” the career PSC politician from Cobb seeking another term. He’s been there since 1995. Newt, true to form, blasted Wise’s opponent, Pam Davidson, an energy consultant from Paulding County and 2008 challenger of PSC Commissioner Bubba McDonald. Newt dissed her, referring to “the failed liberal California energy programs of his (Wise’s) opponent that lead to blackouts, Solyndra and skyrocketing rates.” Somehow he left out Watergate and Obamacare.

It’s a no-holds-barred fight between Wise and Davidson. She’s attacking him for accepting loads of political contributions from lawyers and employees of utilities regulated by the PSC, the common practice among commissioners. Wise countercharges that Davidson has debt, tax and credibility problems involving academic degrees she claimed to have but didn’t. Voters need to sort it out — and check the money trail.

The issue of contributions to PSC members by people representing utilities regulated by the agency warrants more than passing, election-year discussion. This election, however, voters should give very close scrutiny to Stan Wise’s actions exposed by Tom Crawford’s Georgia Report, to wit:

On June 19 this year Wise received a $5,000 contribution from the Troutman Sanders law firm that has long represented Georgia Power before the PSC — most effectively. That same day Wise reported additional contributions from four Troutman Sanders attorneys individually totaling another $5,000 for a grand total of $10,000.

A scant two days later on June 21, Wise voted in favor of Georgia Power charging ratepayers $3.2 million in expenses involved in outages at Plant Vogtle and Plant Hatch nuclear power plants — even though the PSC’s own engineering consultant had said Georgia Power should pay for what he termed “clearly imprudent nuclear plant outages.”

Commissioners Bubba McDonald and Tim Echols voted to make Georgia Power pay for its mistakes, but Stan Wise voted with Chuck Eaton and Doug Everett (former state representative from Albany elected to the PSC in 2003) to stick customers with the $3.2 million tab.

Wise, Eaton and Everett: looking out for Georgia Power.

dmckee9613@aol.com
Comments
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Concerned citizen
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July 27, 2012
Stan Wise voted to save the ratepayers $567 million over 2 years, $8 a month. The $3.2 million was less than 1/600 of a percent. As for Concerned Ratepayer's suspport for Pam Davidson, she lied about her credentials under oath and finally admitted on TV that she doesn't have a degree. She is unqualified to serve on the Commission.
David Staples
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July 29, 2012
Here's the way I understand it. Fuel costs are a pass through by law. So basically what Stan did by voting to save the ratepayers $567M was follow the law. However, there are certain things that can be disallowed from being passed along to ratepayers such as replacement power costs due to actions that are the result of clearly imprudent management. The PSC's own expert testified that he believed the $3.2M should not be passed on to ratepayers. So was the $567M "settlement" at risk? Hardly.

Also, just a minor correction on the math... $3.2M / $570.2M = 0.56% - or just over 1/2 of a percent, not 1/600th.
Concerned Ratepayer
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July 27, 2012
Thanks for the excellent column. It's time for a change and for new blood on the PSC. Stan Wise has backed the utilities and not the ratepayers for 18 years. Why? Because he gets reelected via the funds received from folks associated with the utilities. And to comment on Stan's response, if a judge had received from an attorney trying to practice in front of him the same amount of money that Stan has received, then the judge should probably recuse him or herself from consideration of the case. Is Stan willing to recuse himself from all matters benefitting his financial backers?

In addition to the $3.2 million that Stan voted to allow ratepayers to absorb, he was a leading supporter of having ratepayers cover the cost of building Georgia Power's new nuclear power plants, which plants are now hugely over budget and delayed.

Stan has also been an obstacle to common sense proposals governing adoption of more energy efficiency as well as solar installation, which is becoming more and more cost competitive and is also better for our air and quality of life.

It's time for a change. Vote Pam Davidson for PSC!
David Staples
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July 27, 2012
Additionally, there will be a Libertarian on the ballot in November for the district 5 seat in a two way race against either Pam or Stan - whoever wins the primary. There is no Democrat in the district 5 race. Please be sure to take a look at David Staples, a Powder Springs Resident, and check out my website at:

http://www.VoteStaples.com.
Stan Wise
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July 27, 2012
Columnist Omitted Critical Facts

Dear Editor:

Whatever happened to the lost art of a reporter calling a subject before they write about him or her and spread misinformation? Because he relied on a liberal political blogger as his source, columnist Don McKee only gave part of the information in his latest column ("Public Service Commission races, contributions to Stan Wise warrant scrutiny," July 27, 2012).

The central debate in the Georgia Power fuel rate case was not about $3.2 million in disputed fuel costs and whether Georgia Power should be able to recover the costs. The issue before the PSC was whether to adopt a settlement that had been reached between Georgia Power Company, the staff, and other intervening parties that would give ratepayers a $567 million cut -- big difference!

While two of the Commissioners took issue with whether $3.2 million more in disputed costs should have been included as part of the settlement, it would have been foolish from a legal standpoint to throw out the settlement and place at risk $567 million in guaranteed annual fuel cost reductions, especially when the legal standard being applied would not have justified the additional $3.2 million cut. When it came time to pass the final motion, it was a unanimous vote.

By taking advantage of lower priced natural gas over the last several years and aggressively paying down a fuel cost balance that reached close to $1 billion and avoiding the interest that goes with it, consumers are now benefitting from the conservative planning of the PSC.

And it is not a conflict to accept contributions from law firms and their attorneys merely because some of their attorneys practice in front of the Commission. Under that logic, you would impugn the character of every elected judge in the state for the same practice. Next time, Don, just pick up the phone.
Matt Reid
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July 27, 2012
I am proud to be a Republican candidate for the District 3 Public Service Commission. I have supported Gov. Romney and donated to his campaign. But, the most important campaign contributions to review are my opponent's.

Chuck Eaton has accepted over $100,000 in the last year from utility executives, their lawyers, and lobbyists. This includes money from Troutman Sanders. I believe that these donations should be illegal.

I HAVE NOT AND WILL NOT ACCEPT CONTRIBUTIONS FROM UTILITY EXECUTIVES, THEIR LAWYERS, AND THEIR LOBBYISTS.

Matt Reid (R)

Candidate for Public Service Commission

30066
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July 27, 2012
As an ex-GA Power customer and now with Cobb EMC... I think GA Power walks with God.
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