Filling Bobby Baker’s shoes at the PSC

No doubt you’ve heard about Republican Bobby Baker’s decision not to seek re-election to the state Public Service Commission.

Here’s the lead of this morning’s piece by my AJC colleague Margaret Newkirk:

The longest serving member of the state Public Service Commission – and the commission’s best known advocate for utility consumers – won’t be running for re-election this year, the AJC has learned.

Commissioner Robert Baker will leave the regulatory body at the end of the year, after 18 years as a watchdog over Georgia’s utility companies.

You have to know that a half-dozen lawmakers are drooling over the last-minute opening. A legislator’s part-time salary is about $17k. The PSC post pays $117,000, with a free car and phone. But an Athens area residency is required.

One name we’ve heard: Former Athens mayor Doc Eldridge, currently president of the Athens-Clarke County Chamber of Commerce.

Updated at 12:50 p.m.: Other names have since joined the mix, all Republican:

– Tim Echols, now a political strategist with the John Oxendine campaign for governor. “As a father of seven and a leader of a national youth-oriented non-profit, regulation is a daily activity for me. Traveling the state with John Oxendine as his senior policy advisor has really given me a firsthand look at how dependent we are on some of these industries that the PSC regulates,” he writes.

– State Rep. Jeff May of Monroe;

– and Mike Beatty, the former GOP candidate for lieutenant governor and current commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

22 comments Add your comment

Staunch Right Winger

April 27th, 2010
12:21 pm

Unfortunately the PSC is one place where the repubs always let the consumer down. They always side with the utilities on their rate increases.

Billy Bob

April 27th, 2010
12:44 pm

It is a sad day. The PSC couldn’t find a conscience with a compass and GPS system. Going to be two big parties at 241 Ralph McGill Ave. and 270 Peachtree St. It’s true; power corrupts.

ricardo

April 27th, 2010
12:59 pm

Why does the PSC insure profitability to utilities? The utilities and their employees that the PSC regulates are allowed to provide campaign contributions to the commissioners. Has the PSC denied a rate increase to a utility in GA in the past deacde?

Junior Samples

April 27th, 2010
1:03 pm

Why the restriction to Athens residency for a statewide post?

bulldog

April 27th, 2010
1:12 pm

The law has a residency requirement now. I don’t think it is just Athens but the area. The candidates qualify from that area but are elected statewide.

Marcus Graham

April 27th, 2010
1:16 pm

Billy Bob>>>>>>>>270 has been vacant for years now! Check out the fancy new digs around the corner.

MB

April 27th, 2010
1:49 pm

It’s a shame. Everyone on the Commission with the exception of Commissioner Baker and Commissioner Eaton treats those who speak before them in a disrespectful manner. Its a rude, unprofessional bunch down there. I think most of Georgia would be appalled if they saw the way Wise, Everett, and Bubba conduct business.

Don Juan

April 27th, 2010
1:55 pm

Just get ready for rate hikes.

The Snark

April 27th, 2010
2:21 pm

The taxpayers could save a lot of money by doing away with the PSC and giving Georgia Power and Atlanta Gas Light their own little rubber stamp that says “approved.”

MikeS

April 27th, 2010
3:17 pm

Bobby Baker is one of the good ones. He was on the vanguard of Republicans reformers in 1992, when he was elected to the PSC. His election helped break the one party run by Old South Democrats.
Thanks to Bobby Baker and the soon to fallow Paul Coverdale, Georgia was brought into the modern era as a true two party state. Both parties have their moments of trouble, but Bobby Baker has always been on the side of the Consumers and the people. You will be missed.

grizzybear

April 27th, 2010
3:37 pm

bobby baker represents district 2, as long as you live in the districtyou can run for psc. there is no athens residency requirement as stated in this badly written article.

[...] Bobby Baker, who currently holds the seat, has decided to retire, during the week of qualifying no less, leaving the GOP looking for a candidate. [...]

DannyX

April 27th, 2010
4:48 pm

How has Georgia Power gone from bragging about “the lowest electric rates in the country” to some of the highest residential rates in a few short years?

Lax ethics laws + The Republican legislature + Republican governor + PSC.

The rate and “fee” increases are now mainly for the residential user. Business rates have not gone up very much at all lately.

Mike Smith

April 27th, 2010
5:19 pm

GA ratepayers still pay some of the lowest in the Country:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_a.html

Mike Smith

April 27th, 2010
5:28 pm

Within the State of Georgia, it appears as if GA Power’s rate is below average as well.

http://www.psc.state.ga.us/electric/Surveys/2009/allprowin09/allprowin09-500.asp

REALITY CHECK

April 27th, 2010
6:12 pm

Those do not include all the extra fees Georgia Power passes on. Like the new nuclear power plant charge.

The natural gas base fee this this month was $33.00!!! Its the “fees” they keep raising.

The “fuel recovery charge is another manipulation.”

Those rankings hardly tell the full story. Not even close.

PSC watcher

April 27th, 2010
8:37 pm

Bobby Baker has been a true public servant for the last 18 years. Any break Georgians got on their gas, telephone or power bills and any attempt to rein in the powerful utilities and make them follow the rules came because Bobby Baker was always at work, always prepared and always cognizant of the constitutency he served – the citizens, not the utilities. Let’s hope his replacement will be able to fill his shoes.

Danny O

April 28th, 2010
11:11 am

This is a major loss. I don’t care if it’s Republicans or Democrats at the PSC, I just want folks who will stand up for consumers against the utility monopolies. Bobby Baker was the only Commissioner that kept the interest of his constituents in mind. Most businesses would kill for the 10% + profit that Georgia Power is guaranteed by the PSC. Even though interest rates are at historic lows and they’ve got federal loan guarantees, Georgia Power still had the audacity to come to the PSC and the legislature and get permission to shift the burden of financing expensive new nuclear plants on families and small businesses. Baker was the only Commissioner to vote against it.

Regarding Baker’s seat (District 2): Whoever replaces him will have to come from that district, which includes Athens, Macon, Augusta, and the eastern suburbs of Atlanta. PSC district map at:
http://www.psc.state.ga.us/pscinfo/districts/pscdistricts.htm

ladyliberty

April 29th, 2010
10:56 am

@Mike S…. Paul Coverdell didn’t come along after Baker. He was elected statewide the same year as Bobby Baker. Only Paul had to win in a runoff in 1992. Bobby’s letter that he was the only statewide elected GOP was wrong. He and Coverdell were elected the same election cycle. Bobby was the only state Constitutional officer at the time – until Oxendine and the other Baker came along in 1994.

Walton County Boy

April 29th, 2010
7:00 pm

Add some info on Jeff May. He is best candidate of the bunch.

Tracey

April 30th, 2010
8:44 am

Mike Smith, please get your head out of the sand. Is saying that GPC has some of the lowest rates supposed to make us feel better about our utility regulators being in the company’s pocket? It is a sad sad state that the citizens of this state are in because they have no representation on this panel. Baker…and Speir when she was there…tried to be the voice of the consumer but they were outnumbered.

Commissioner Baker is a true advocate and a true regulator. Never afraid to question and probe and never taking the utilities assertions as fact like the other commissioners do. Never wheelin’ and dealin’ with the utilities like the other commissioners do. And for all those who think a regulatory board whose members are all from the same party is a good thing, please wake up. Adding another like-minded politician will only get you more of the same.

FormerAtlNewsWriter

April 30th, 2010
8:57 am

Covered Commissioner Baker for nearly five years. He’s one of the good guys and is a true consumer advocate. Felt his frustration on more than one occasion. Believes he had gotten fed up with the backroom dealing which permeates the PSC, i.e., Georgia Power. God speed Bobby!