ear <<First Name>>,

I plan to start every email with an update on the election because I’m being asked more and more about what’s going on. And to be honest, I don’t know much. I can tell you that the discrimination lawsuit that put the election on hold is still waiting for a ruling from the Federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Many of us expected a quick ruling after the appeal was heard on December 14th, as both sides had requested given that elections are time sensitive, but here we are over a month later and still no ruling.

All images are hyperlinked to the article or story.

If the plaintiffs lose it is likely that they will appeal since that will be a bitter pill to swallow after originally winning their case in Federal court. I attended many hours of the hearings and their legal counsel did a bang up job showing the blatant racial discrimination from the way Georgia elects its utility commissioners. And they won, as they should have. Plaintiffs testimony itself was compelling and powerful, and sad. Discrimination harms everybody at every level and this is no different - Blacks have only been able to elect one person to the commission in 140 years, and that person was appointed so incumbency helped one time - in the next election he was defeated.

But can’t whites represent the interests of Blacks and other people of color?

I don’t know - these guys don’t much look like they represent me either and they represent people of color even less so. And we need diversity - of gender, race and party. The Republican party has had a lock on the commission for all five seats for over 20 years. 90% of that time the people of Georgia, in all of our beautiful diversity, were represented by conservative white men. So yeah, the way commissioners are elected in Georgia works pretty well…for white men.

And the record tells the story - Georgia’s energy burden is one of the highest in the nation. Energy burden refers to the amount of money a household pays for its energy relative to its income.

Once the discrimination lawsuit was filed, state Republican leaders and Georgia Power were like, “Oh this isn’t a good look for us” to have five conservative white men - or sometimes four conservative white men and a conservative white woman - lined up across the dias looking down on high to the people making utility bill judgements for a state with only a 60% white population, and then quickly moved to repair it.

Commissioner Chuck Eaton, who hadn’t serve a day as a lawyer but went to night school and earned a law degree - no knock on night school, I did that for much of my undergraduate degree - quickly resigned and was given a plumb appointment as a judge on the Fulton County Superior Court in the Atlanta Judicial Court by Gov. Brian Kemp without having served a day as a lawyer or a judge. “Thank you Commissioner Eaton for all those great rate increases and votes for Plant Vogtle” from your friends at Georgia Power through Governor Kemp. Here you go.

Did I forget to mention that “Judge” Eaton will get to hear cases filed again Georgia Power in state court? We wouldn’t want to have unbiased judges with litigation experience when we can have ex-PSC commissioners who are friendly with the powerful monopoly utility on the bench, would we?

So that opened a seat on the commission and allowed the Guv to appoint a Black man and repair this terrible look of five white conservatives while trying to beat a discrimination lawsuit in federal court. That might not work.

Governor Kemp picked Mr. Johnson to backfill the open seat and the lack of diversity was repaired - at least in the looks department. Certainly not in the viewpoint department..

But let’s look at Commissioner Johnson: he has no energy experience; he never lobbied for nor ran for this seat; he’s never advocated for renewable energy or anything else to do with energy or the PSC; and when asked what he knew about energy burden during the discrimination lawsuit he was unfamiliar with the term but offered to look it up. Hmm - he’s not likely to be very helpful to Blacks struggling to pay utility bills if he doesn’t even know about energy burden.

Here’s what he brought to the table: he’s a long time Republican, he’s a donor to Governor Kemp, he’s active in business associations, and he is conservative. Oh, and he’s a multi-millionaire.

So not much will change with the addition of Commissioner Johnson, especially not for Blacks, given his unfamiliarity with issues relevant to them and their needs.

Not only does the commission do a miserable job keeping bills low as I showed in my last email, they have never protected Blacks from where dirty power plants are cited, or coal ash pond leakage and pollution runoff, nor of course, Plant Vogtle’s massive nuclear expansion which is occurring in Waynesboro Georgia which is 70% Black. I sure wouldn’t want to live near the largest nuclear power plant in the nation with four nuclear reactors moving around the world’s deadliest product - uranium, and I’m guessing no high income or white neighborhoods would have allowed it had Georgia Power even tried.

Nuclear energy requires massive levels of water to cool convey heat from the reactor core to steam turbines. Elevated tritium levels in the Savannah river are routinely detected, or were when water was tested for tritium, but that’s been stopped for reasons that are convoluted and unbelievable - something about the South Carolina side of the river would or should detect the tritium first. Huh?!? Savannah River water is used to cool Plant Vogtle’s nuclear reactors. But sure, let’s get South Carolina involved!

Georgia EPD told me South Carolina tests water on their side of the river for contamination but the results aren’t available for anyone to see. That whole testing situation is a knot I was never able to untie. Here is a PBS article that explains it. Good luck.

I started this missive planning to demonstrate why Tim Echols is not the good guy he pretends he is but that will have to wait for next time. Let me just close with these points: Georgia code requires that commissioners set “just and reasonable rates”. That’s required by Georgia law. The commission in general and Commissioner Echols in particular is not doing that.

This mandate is stated in the code and it’s stated on the Ga PSC website.

I noticed the Ga PSC website changed “just” to “fair”. This is what the commission proudly claims they do:

The parts I highlighted are laughable or would be if it weren’t sad. Are you kidding me?!? - the commission “does not guarantee profits…” - Really? Tell that to Georgia Power because the commission delivers profits by the truckload.

I can’t stop watching this video clip of Georgia Power’s CFO snapping at the Georgia Public Interest Advocacy attorney that the reason he called staff requests that Georgia Power earn “normal profits” of the utility industry radical was because “we’re not other utilities. We’re Georgia Power.” I’ve watched it maybe a dozen times in disbelief that he felt comfortable giving that answer.

We are talking about Ga Power here

Note that that the profit measures Georgia Power asked for that Georgia Power’s CFO characterized as radical was the very idea that Ga Power should earn what other utilities earn, were in fact were approved. These high profit measures were a yes vote from Commissioner Johnson, the newest member beholden to the governor for his appointment and so of course does the job he’s paid to do, and a yes vote from Commissioner Echols, who claims he’s a Watchdog for Georgia Families. Really? LOL

Some watchdogs do nothing. Some watchdogs say one thing and do another. Because I can tell you that while Commissioner Echols is trotting around the state advocating for EV buses and hydrogen brain trusts, he’s not fulfilling the role of a commissioner. He’s not doing his job, which is to protect consumers from high bills and monopoly abuse of power. Because once Plant Vogtle costs get put into the rates, our bills will be the highest in the nation. He did that.

That’s no watchdog, except for Georgia Power profits.

I still have to do that ethics and transparency post. It’s coming too.