The Georgia Public Service Commission just got treated to a $7,700 meal by utility lobbyists. I can’t even imagine how one eats $7,700 worth of food and drink in one sitting. I can, however, imagine the conversations that were happening in light of Georgia Power’s recent troubles with the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion.
The five member of the PSC, and some of their staff, got treated to a real nice meal paid for by several lobbyists for power and communications companies, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, during the Southeastern Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners conference last month. This happened after Georgia Power has received multiple concessions from the commission as they’ve navigated problems building two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.
The AJC lists the lobbyists involved in paying for the dinner as working for: AT&T, Atlanta Gas Light, Gas South, the Georgia Cable Association and Georgia Power.
I’m trying to imagine what a $7,700 meal even looks like. There were six lobbyists and five commissioners present, plus some of the staff of the relatively small state agency. Did they buy 55 bottles of Dom Perignon just to take a sip and pour them out? Did everyone eat lobster and steak? Did all the good commissioners get themselves dessert while they were being wined and dined?
Well, Commissioners Stan Wise, Tim Echols, “Bubba” McDonald, Jr., Doug Everett and Chuck Eaton, I hope that was a real good meal y’all enjoyed.
The commission is supposed to be the state agency that oversees and regulates all utilities. Right now, Georgia Power’s main contractor for the Plant Vogtle nuclear power expansion went bankrupt and the company is evaluating whether or not they can complete the project. Meanwhile, the expansion is already several years and several billion dollars over budget, while consumer watchdog groups have been critical of the monthly surcharge the power company collects to fund the expansion paid for my all utility ratepayers — from residential customers to public schools.
Commissioner McDonald recently proposed a measure to end Georgia Power’s collection of the Nuclear Expansion surcharge, but that was tabled last month. A moment to celebrate perhaps?
All five commissioners are Republicans, all serve staggered six-year terms, each elected to represent one of five districts across Georgia. Chuck Eaton, who represents Fulton, Clayton, DeKalb, and Rockdale counties, is up for reelection in 2018, as is Stan Wise, who represents the portion of Georgia roughly from Atlanta to Macon, stretching westward to the Georgia-Alabama border.
Want to voice your opposition to $7,700 lobbyist dinners? You can reach your public service commissioners at the email addresses below!
Doug Everett (District 1) – email@example.com
Tim Echols (District 2) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Chuck Eaton (District 3) – email@example.com
Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Jr. (District 4) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Stan Wise (District 5) – email@example.com
Give them a call at their Atlanta office at (404) 656-4501 if you’re in the metro Atlanta area and at (800) 282-5813 if you’re outside the metro Atlanta area.