This isn’t a story about large utility interests pouring thousands of dollars into Georgia Public Service commissioners’ re-election campaigns.
That is because the money is coming from the solar industry this time.
Incumbents Doug Everett and Lauren “Bubba” McDonald have received more than $14,000 from individual solar companies, national and state solar industry groups, lobbyists, contractors, and associated attorneys, according to campaign disclosures from the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.
Some of those same companies and individuals also have donated more than $3,000 to two of the sitting commissioners who aren’t up for re-election right now, according to the agency, formerly known as the state ethics commission.
“Most members of the Georgia PSC have been incredibly thoughtful in their efforts to advance affordable solar energy to the benefit of consumers. I, along with many others, believe they deserve to continue their good work,” said Pete Corbett, president and chairman of the Georgia chapter of the Solar Energy Industries Association and an executive with First Century Energy and its subsidiary, SolAmerica Energy LLC.
Georgia’s PSC is one of just a few utility regulators that is elected. Its commissioners are used to environmental and consumer advocates criticizing them for receiving thousands in donations from executives, lobbyists and lawyers connected with the state’s major utilities, natural gas and telephone companies.
Some of those individuals have contributed to current campaign coffers, but this is the first time donations from the solar industry have figured so prominently.
“As solar technology becomes more and more affordable, Georgia has emerged as a national solar energy leader,” said Jason Rooks, a lobbyist for the Georgia SEIA. “The PSC’s thoughtful leadership on solar issues has allowed the free market to work for the consumer’s benefit, and just like any other individuals or organizations engaged in the political process, we want to support candidates that share our views. “