When the state’s newest Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols was campaigning around the state last fall, he liked to bring his own bottled water when visiting utility sites, saying he didn’t plan to take even a glass of water from businesses regulated by the PSC.
But how about a plane trip?
In December, after his election but before he took office, Echols traveled to California to tour compressed and liquid natural gas stations operated by T. Boone Pickens’ Clean Energy Fuels, which is working to change an Atlanta Gas Light compressed natural gas proposal now before the PSC.
Asked about the trip, Echols confirmed that the Clean Energy company paid for it.
He also said the trip was valuable and helped him learn how the natural gas fuels business works.
“You saw the CNG stations,” he said. “You saw the LNG being loaded on to long-haul trucks. I learned a lot.”
He said the commission itself would have paid for the trip if he had actually been a commissioner when it happened. He also said that Clean Energy is not a business regulated by the PSC — although the company does have interests there.
Echols campaigned on a promise to actively promote alternative energy, especially natural gas fuel for vehicles. He bought a CNG-fueled car of his own and is using it to promote the fuel.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes on Thursday said state Rep. Tyrone Brooks will mount a vigorous challenge of a 30-count federal indictment that accuses him of stealing nearly $1 million over 20 years from a pair of charities.