Forsyth County Democrat has wide lead in primary race for Georgia PSC

Forsyth County resident Daniel Blackman held a commanding lead Wednesday over a former state legislator in a race for a seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Election officials were still tallying ballots, but Blackman, 40, had landed nearly three-fourths of the votes counted in his race against fellow Democrat John Noel, a 49-year-old Augusta resident. The winner in the primary will face Republican incumbent Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, one of the commission’s longest serving members, in the fall general election.

The PSC regulates some utilities, particularly Georgia Power, and natural gas distributor Atlanta Gas Light. It has oversight not only over Georgia Power’s rates but also what kind of energy generation plants it builds. Crucially, the five-member commission will decide how much of the costs of Georgia Power’s long-troubled multi-billion-dollar Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion will be passed on to customers.

Blackman, a former business consultant, works with a local nonprofit focused on social justice and launched a startup video production business.

Incumbent McDonald, 81, has served on the PSC for about 16 years. He lives in Habersham County and is a partner in a funeral home business with his son and daughter-in-law.

Blackman lost in a run against McDonald in 2014, getting about 42% of the vote.

This year’s general election will include another PSC contest, pitting Savannah Democrat Robert Bryant, who held executive positions in higher education, against incumbent Jason Shaw, a former state legislator and an appointee of former Gov. Nathan Deal.

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