Commissioner Tim Echols, left, listens during a Georgia Public Service Commission meeting in December 2017. Hyosub Shin / email@example.com
The PSC last year approved rate increases for Georgia Power, which is building the nuclear expansion of Plant Vogtle, and Atlanta Gas Light, which provides pipelines for 1.6 million customers of natural gas marketers.
Commission members are required to live in one of five districts: metro Atlanta, North Georgia, South Georgia, and the east and west halves of Middle Georgia. But voters across the entire state are allowed to vote for all commission seats.
The Georgia General Assembly, which has a Republican majority, redraws PSC districts once a decade, a process that will occur next year.
“The Legislature sets the rules for the Public Service Commission, and their collective voice is the only one that matters,” said Tim Echols, the vice chairman of the commission. “I plan to run again for my seat in 2022 even if it is changed.”
The plaintiffs proposed five PSC districts, at least one of which would have a Black-majority population.
In this year’s elections, two PSC seats are on the ballot.
Longtime Republican Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald faces Democrat Daniel Blackman and Libertarian Nathan Wilson. In addition, Republican Commissioner Jason Shaw will be opposed by Democrat Robert G. Bryant and Libertarian Elizabeth Melton.
The lawsuit is unlikely to be resolved before this November’s election, but it could change how voters choose PSC members in the future, said Bryan Sells, an attorney for the plaintiffs.