The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) consists of five white Republicans elected at-large by all Georgians. They live in and serve five different districts in Georgia but are not elected just by voters who are from those districts.
A lawsuit challenging the at-large method of electing members of the PSC hopes to put more diversity on the PSC. No African American has ever been elected to the PSC even though in one district Blacks are 54.15% of the voting-age population, according to the Census Bureau.
The lawsuit argues that the at-large method of electing members of the PSC dilutes black voting strength in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Republicans continue to control Georgia by gerrymandering and voter suppression, which has been widely reported in national news sources like CNN and the New York Times. But with changing demographics in Georgia minorities are demanding to be represented.
Georgia also has a long history of voting discrimination against African Americans. Some Black voting districts often have few voting machines and extremely long lines, while some white voting districts often have an abundance of voting machines with small lines.
According to the 2010 Census of voting age Georgians, white citizens are 62.3%, Blacks are 29.7%, and other minorities are 8.% of the population. More recent statistics show an increase in voting-age Black citizens at 32.3%
The lawsuit claims that voting for members of the PSC is polarized along racial lines with three voting practices that enhance the opportunity for discrimination against African Americans.
Commissioners are elected to six-year terms in staggered years. They must live in the district they represent but are elected in statewide elections and not by the citizens of their district.
An informal slating process for members of the PSC that operates by gubernatorial appointment can effectively keep Republicans in power.
On February 20, 2018, Republican Stan Wise conveniently resigned with less than a year left on his six-year term, so Republican Governor Nathan Deal could appoint Republican Tricia Pridemore to Wise’s seat. Wise served 23 years on the commission.
In the 2018 election, Republican Pridemore ran as an incumbent and defeated the candidate preferred by Black voters
At the end of December 2018, Republican Doug Everett, retired from the PSC four years into his six-year term and Republican Governor Nathan Deal appointed Republican Jason Shaw to Everett’s seat in 2019. Everett served on the PSC since 2003.
The PSC has not been responsive to the particularized needs of African American residents of Georgia, the lawsuit claims.
PSC NOT RESPONSIVE TO THE RATEPAYERS
The PSC is supposed to protect ratepayers from greed and graft but Georgia Power has too much influence over the PSC.
Going to a PSC meeting is like watching the movie Groundhog Day. The facts may change but the PSC always votes for whatever Georgia Power wants.
The PSC motto seems to be “If it’s good for Georgia Power it’s good for Georgia.”
The PSC advisory staff year after year warns “you are over budget and will not meet the deadline on Vogtle 3 and 4” but Georgia Power’s lap dogs continue to howl for more money from captive ratepayers.
Georgia Power will not use one dime of their huge profits instead, they go to the ratepayers to pay for Georgia Power and Southern Company’s bad decisions.
Paul Bowers, CEO of Georgia Power, makes over $4 million in total compensation per year, and Thomas Fanning, President & CEO at Southern Company, over $12 million in total compensation. Southern Company made $3 billion in profits in 2018 and Georgia Power made $1.4 billion in 2017, as reported in Streets of Atlanta.
The Vogtle 3 and 4 project is several billion dollars over budget and is getting close to the $27 billion cap set by the PSC. The schedule for completion is now 2021 for Vogtle 3 and 2022 for Vogtle 4. Recently, the PSC advisory staff has warned that those completion dates are unlikely to be met.
The PSC continues to repeat the same mistakes over and over again by not remembering Vogtle 1 and 2 and the 1000 percent overrun in money and time that project cost. Heck, they don’t seem to remember year-to-year mistakes.
On November 3, 2020, Georgia voters will have the opportunity to vote for new blood and diversity on the PSC.
In District 4, Democrat Daniel Blackman is challenging incumbent Republican Lauren “Bubba” McDonald.
In District 1, Democrat Robert Bryant is challenging incumbent Republican Jason Shaw.