Archive for the ‘Public Service Commission’ Category

Georgia PSC reignites the debate over ‘free’ cell phones

Last fall, as the presidential contest reached a fever pitch, a video raced across the Internet, featuring an African-American woman in Cleveland who praised President Barack Obama for giving her a free cell phone.

“Everybody in Cleveland — low minorities — got Obama phones,” she said.

Critics decried the clip as racist. Politifact awarded its vaunted “Pants on Fire” rating to Republican claims that the president was attempting to buy votes with cell phones.

Even so, tea party forces built a campaign around the video in an unsuccessful attempt to counter criticism Mitt Romney had endured for declaring — in a video captured by the left — that 47 percent of Americans were too dependent on government handouts to vote Republican.

The phone furor died quickly after Nov. 6. But we in Georgia are about to revive it. With a vengeance.

The state Public Service Commission this morning will hold a public hearing on new rules to require recipients of subsidized cell phone service to pony …

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Your daily jolt: White House warns that ‘fiscal cliff’ fears could freeze Christmas spending

As the country’s tryptophan high wears off, the sobering debate over the fiscal cliff begins. From the Associated Press:

White House economists warned Monday that the uncertainty of a potential hike in taxes next year for middle class taxpayers under the looming fiscal cliff could hurt consumer confidence during the crucial holiday shopping season.

In a new report that coincides with Congress’ return after the Thanksgiving holiday, the White House says that if lawmakers don’t halt the automatic increase in taxes for households earning less than $250,000, consumers might even curtail their shopping during the current holiday season.

“As we approach the holiday season, which accounts for close to one-fifth of industry sales, retailers can’t afford the threat of tax increases on middle-class families,” the report says.

The study by President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council and his Council of Economic Advisers also says a sudden increase in taxes for middle-income …

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Newt Gingrich speaks up for Stan Wise in PSC race

The re-election campaign of state Public Service Commissioner Stan Wise on Monday made public a robo-call that former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich has recorded on Wise’s behalf. The two are old Cobb County friends.

And for his friend, Gingrich describes Wise’s Republican opponent, Pam Davidson, as a West Coast flower child:

”Hello, this is Newt Gingrich. I’m still humbled to have won Georgia on Super Tuesday, and today I’m asking you to vote for my good friend Stan Wise, who’s seeking another term on the Georgia Public Service Commission. His steady hand at the PSC has helped build a reliable energy system without shifting costs to future generations. The last thing we need in Georgia are the failed, liberal California energy programs of his opponent that lead to blackouts, Solyndra, and skyrocketing rates. Please vote for Stan Wise in the Republican primary.”

Presumably, “without shifting costs to future generations” is the tested phraseology for the advance payments that …

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Your morning jolt: GOP contest prompts an unexciting stream of early votes

Updated at 8:15 p.m. to correct numbers offered today by the secretary of state’s office:

If early voting is any clue, the GOP presidential contest is setting Georgia ablaze — like a wet matchstick.

According to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, 86,426 advance and absentee votes have been cast thus far.

In 2008, there were 247,897 early ballots cast. Now, assume that 50 percent of those votes four years ago were cast in the Democratic party, which had a contested nomination.
And assume that all of the early votes this year are Republican in nature.

Even so, this would be a 30 percent decline in Georgia early voting over ’08. Last year, the Legislature curtailed the advanced voting period. Even so, the difference is startling.
If nothing else, the current number is evidence that none of the four GOP candidates has an extensive ground game in Georgia.

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A new Georgia poll of the GOP presidential primary was rolled out by 11Alive/Survey USA on Monday, showing Newt Gingrich with a …

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Four PSC members want to oust Tim Echols from chairmanship

Open revolt has broken out at the Georgia Public Service Commission.

We told you this morning that a Senate committee at 4 p.m. this afternoon will take up SB 483, which would allow the five-member PSC to return to its former practice of choosing its own chairman, rather than rotating the position. It’s very likely that Echols would be ousted on passage.

At first glance, language in the bill would permit the current PSC chairman, Tim Echols, to serve out his year-long rotation in the position. But then his four colleagues – and let us use the term very loosely – sent a letter to members of the state Senate that says this:

We believe the time has come to renew discussions of how the Georgia Public Service Commission elects its leadership. Last year a bill to amend the current procedure was introduced but did not receive approval.

However, clearly we at the Public Service Commission need leadership continuity and accountability. In the business world, no company changes its …

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Your morning jolt: Rick Santorum leads, Newt Gingrich trails in Tennessee poll

A Vanderbilt University poll this morning shows Rick Santorum with a commanding 38 percent lead in the GOP presidential contest in neighboring Tennessee, with Newt Gingrich in a statistical tie for fourth place with Ron Paul.

Gingrich will spend all of today at events in Nashville. Tennessee voters, like those in Georgia, will cast their primary ballots in the 10-state, Super Tuesday vote on March 6.

The top line in Tennessee:

– Santorum, 38 percent;

– Mitt Romney, 20 percent;

– Ron Paul, 15 percent;

– Newt Gingrich, 13 percent;

– Undecided, 13 percent;

That’s based on telephone interviews with 815 likely GOP voters with an MOE of +/-4.1 percent. A larger aspect of the poll, also conducted Feb. 16 to 22 by the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt, indicates that both Santorum and Mitt Romney would narrowly defeat President Barrack Obama in November.

The Vanderbilt poll measured antipathy toward the current occupant of the White House this …

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The heated debate over solar power

Clearly, a bill to encourage the use of solar power is now the hottest item in the state Capitol.

SB 401, sponsored by state Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, originally had been shunted by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to the Senate Natural Resources Committee, where it was to be studied to death.

So on Thursday, an impatient Carter — opposed by Georgia Power, electrical membership corporations, and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce — brought SB 401 to the Senate committee that oversees utility legislation, where many think the measure ought to have been brought in the first place. Carter attempted to attach his bill to another piece of legislation intended to allow paranoid homeowners to opt out of wireless metering systems.

The concept offered by Carter is complicated, but my AJC colleague Kristina Torres has this explanation:

The most controversial aspect of Senate Bill 401 would allow outside companies to install, own and maintain alternative energy systems, in return for customers …

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Of PSC loggerheads and letterheads

Below is official evidence of the rift between Tim Echols, chairman of the state Public Service Commission, and Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, who also sits on the panel.

The PSC has five members. You’ll see that, on the commission’s newly printed, taxpayer-funded letterhead, only four commissioners are listed on the left. That’s because McDonald refuses to allow his name to appear anywhere near that of Echols:

pscstationery

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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The war over PSC stationery

Utility lobbyists are quite familiar with the hostilities between Tim Echols, the new chairman of the Public Service Commission, and commission member Laurence “Bubba” McDonald, who has spear-headed an attempt to put a stop to the PSC’s tradition of rotating the position.

But they probably didn’t know that tempers were on such a hair-trigger. Echols’ ascension to the post has required the PSC to order up some new stationery, noting the fact of Echols’ leadership in the letterhead.

Normally, the four other members of the utility regulating commission are listed as well. But we’re told that McDonald has demanded that his name be omitted from the new stationery. He doesn’t want his name anywhere near that of Echols.

The order isn’t back from the printer’s yet. We’ve asked for a copy.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

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Tim Echols on his Masters request: ‘It was a mistake’

The following article by my AJC colleague Kristi Swartz is raising eyebrows around the Capitol:

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols began criticizing his fellow commissioners for being too cozy with lobbyists even before he took office.

I am uncomfortable taking admission, taking tickets to sporting events from those that I regulate,” he said.

Yet, using official Public Service Commission letterhead, Echols went straight to the Augusta National Golf Club to request two complimentary practice round tickets to this year’s Masters, long after tickets had been distributed to one of the world’s most prestigious golf tournaments through a lottery system.

Echols, rather than defending himself, is acknowledging the breach. He just sent the following in an unsolicited e-mail:

”The March 2 letter requesting my name be put into the practice round lottery should have been done on my personal letterhead. Period. It was a mistake.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant …

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