Four Southeast Utility Regulators to Watch

Maggie Shober | June 7, 2019 | Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Utilities

E&E News published an interesting article yesterday on state energy regulators that are “shaking things up,” and four of them hail from Southeast states. We recognize the four regulators highlighted below, do not encompass the diversity of voices needed in this conversation, and ask you to chime in with who is working on these issues in your community in the comments section or by tweeting us your thoughts.

(Left to right: Brandon Presley MS PSC, Tom Ervin SC PSC, Jason Shaw GA PSC, Ted Thomas AR PSC)

Let’s start off in Mississippi with Brandon Presley who was just elected to represent SEARUC (Southeast utility group) to NARUC, the national group for utility commissioners. Some highlights of Presley’s track record on the Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) include working toward customer choice issues around energy efficiency and rooftop solar, challenging Mississippi Power’s boondoggle around the Kemper “next-gen” coal project, and expanding rural broadband through rural coops. He is also a leader in the ongoing overhaul of the Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process in the state.

Moving on to South Carolina, Tom Ervin joined the PSC last year just in time for the V.C. Summer debacle. At recent public hearings about Duke Energy’s proposed fee hike (which was slapped down by the PSC), Ervin engaged respectfully with Duke Energy customers and showed empathy for their situations. His motion for the directive showed that he incorporated public input, as required of commissioners. Ervin was the only voice who questioned whether South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. (SCE&G) acted “imprudently” while working on V.C. Summer, a joint nuclear project between SCE&G and Santee Cooper.

Jason Shaw, from Georgia joined the PSC at the beginning of the year and is an interesting Commissioner for E&E News to include on this list. Shaw’s background in farming could give him a unique perspective on the benefits distributed solar could bring to the Georgia agriculture sector. We continue to watch Shaw and this entire Commission as they monitor Vogtle, infamous for its cost and schedule overruns, and oversee Georgia Power’s ongoing IRP and upcoming rate case.

We’ll round out this quartet in Arkansas with Ted Thomas. E&E News quotes Hannah Polikov of Advanced Energy Economy calling Thomas a leader on “technological advancement and innovation especially when it comes to distributed energy resources.” Thomas has spoken out about removing “barriers to new technologies — except for one — and that’s price. And then let the economics sort it out.”

We recognize that this list does not encompass the diversity of voices that are needed in this conversation and we look forward to seeing more diverse leaders in this space in the future. Who is working on this in your community? Let us know in the comments section or on twitter!

Maggie Shober
Maggie Shober works to speed the clean energy transformation in the Southeast through analysis and advocacy. She has expertise in renewable energy, energy efficiency, coal retirements, energy market modeling, and…
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