Alabama Public Service Commission
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2008)|
The Alabama Public Service Commission, commonly called the PSC, was established by an act of the Alabama Legislature in 1915 to primarily replace the State Railroad Commission. The PSC's responsibility was expanded in 1920 to include regulating and setting rates that utility companies charge their customers for electricity. The legislature expanded the PSC's responsibilities in later years to include those companies that provide gas, water, and communications, as well as transportation common carriers such as trucking and air carriers. The PSC effectively determines the rate of profits that most of these companies are allowed to earn. However, some of its traditional responsibilities have passed to the federal government with the passage of the Federal Aviation Act of 1994 and the Federal Communications Act of 1996.
Election of Commissioners
The Alabama Public Service Commission is composed of three elected members, a President and two associate commissioners. They run statewide in partisan elections and each serves a 4-year term. When vacancies occur they are filled by appointment by the Governor of Alabama. There is no limit to the number of terms to which they may be elected. The President of the Commission is elected during Presidential elections and the two associate commissioners are elected during midterm elections.
- President: Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R)
- Associate Commissioners:
- Terry Dunn (R)
- Jeremy H. Oden (R)
Recent Associate Commissioner Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh was elected to the Presidency of the PSC on November 6, 2012, when she defeated the one term incumbent Democrat Lucy Baxley. Baxley had been the only remaining statewide elected Democrat still in office in Alabama and was first elected in 2008, with a margin of about 10,000 votes which translated into 50.3% of the vote over Republican Twinkle Cavanaugh. Commissioner Baxley previously served as Alabama State Treasurer and Lieutenant Governor before losing a race for governor to incumbent Bob Riley in 2006.
Commissioner Cavanaugh, in defeating Baxley in 2012 received just over 55% of the ballots cast and had a margin of about 100,000 vote. She had previously served as both Executive Director and later was elected as the first female Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. She was initially elected to the Commission on November 2, 2010, in her third campaign for statewide office. She defeated long-time commissioner Jan Cook with 56% of the vote and a margin of more than 186,000 votes. The seat that Cavanaugh vacated for the PSC Presidency was filled for the remainder of her term by an appointee by Governor Robert J. Bentley.
Commissioner Terry Dunn was elected in 2010 when he defeated incumbent Susan Parker. Despite being outspent by a more than 2-1 margin, he won 55% of the vote and a margin of more than 150,000 votes. Dunn is from Gadsden and is the owner of Dunn Development Corp. and Dunn Investment Group. He is also a trustee for the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind.
Commissioner Jeremy H. Oden was appointed to a vacancy on the PSC by Governor Robert Bentley at the beginning of December 2012 to the seat vacated by Cavanaugh upon her election to the PSC Presidency. Oden had served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1998 until his appointment. Both he and Commissioner Dunn will have to stand for re-election in 2014.
History and Prior Commissioners
Often in the past, The commission served as a stepping stone to run for higher offices in the state, although not always successfully. Commissioners B.B. Comer and Gordon Persons moved from the PSC to the office of Governor. Long-time Commissioner C.C. "Jack" Owen unsuccessfully ran for governor from the PSC.
Commissioner Jim Folsom Jr. was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1986 and was re-elected in 1990. He was elevated to the governor's office in 1993 upon the felony conviction of Gov. Guy Hunt. As an incumbent, he was defeated in the gubernatorial election in 1994 by Republican Fob James. Folsom stayed out of elective politics for 12 years. Folsom returned to public office with his 2006 election to the office of Lieutenant Governor. He was again defeated for re-election in 2010 when he lost the Lieutenant Governor post to Republican Kay Ivey. Folsom is the son and namesake of two-time Alabama governor James E. "Big Jim" Folsom, famous for being a progressive on civil rights when it was unpopular to be so.
Commissioner Jim Zeigler became a perennial candidate following his single term on the PSC. He subsequently ran for state supreme court, civil appeals court, state treasurer and state auditor, losing each by narrow margins, thus earning the nickname "Mr. 49%." He made a minor comeback of sorts in 2004, when he mildly surprised the political establishment by defeating long-time Republican National Committeeman and former Chief Justice Perry O. Hooper, Sr. for Statewide Delegate to the Republican National Convention. Hooper is a founder of the modern Republican Party of Alabama and had been expected to win handily. On June 3, 2014, Zeigler came in first place in the Republican primary for State Auditor, and will face Dale Peterson in a runoff on July 15.
One of the most infamous and colorful politicians in Alabama was Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor, a Democrat who had earlier served as police commissioner in Birmingham. He made national news when he ordered the police to use dogs and fire hoses on civil rights demonstrators during the Civil Rights protests in the 1960s. He lost a race for governor in 1970 in the Democrat primary.
Commissioner Ed Pepper and his wife were killed in the worst fire in Alabama history in 1966. The Dale's Penthouse restaurant fire in Montgomery took 25 lives. He was the brother of well-known U.S. Senator and Congressman Claude Pepper of Florida, an Alabama native. The long-serving Claude Pepper became a national spokesman for senior citizens.
Two commissioners were convicted of felony offenses while serving and were automatically removed—Juanita McDaniel and Kenneth "Bozo" Hammond. Hammond later was elected Mayor of his native Valley Head, Alabama.
Hammond, Lynn Greer, and Pete Matthews all had previously served in the Alabama Legislature as Democrats. Greer later lost a race for Congress in north Alabama's Tennessee Valley district but was then twice elected to the state legislature again as recently as 2010 as a Republican.
List of commissioners
- Walter L. Bragg: Served February 1881 – February 1885
- Henry R. Shorter: Served February 1885 – February 1897
- James Crook: Served February 1897 – February 1901
- John V. Smith: Served March 1901 – March 1905
- B.B. Comer: Served March 1905 – January 1907
- Charles Henderson: Served January 1907 – January 1915
- Samuel P. Kennedy: Served June 1915 – January 1923
- A.G. Patterson: Served January 1923 – January 1927
- Hugh White: Served January 1927 – January 1945
- Gordon Persons: Served January 1945 – January 1951
- C.C. (Jack) Owen: Served January 1951 – January 1965
- Eugene (Bull) Conner: Served January 1965 – January 1973
- Kenneth "Bozo" Hammond: Served January 1973 – December 1975
- C.C. "Chris" Whatley: Served December 1975 – January 1977
- Juanita W. McDaniel: Served January 1977 – February 1980
- William J. "Jimmy" Samford, Jr.: Served February 1980 – January 1981
- Billy Joe Camp: Served January 1981 – January 1983
- Jim Sullivan: Served February 1983 – November 2008
- Lucy Baxley: Served November 2008 – November 2012
- Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh: Served November 2012 – Present
- Commissioner, Place 1
- James Crook: Served February 1881 – February 1885
- Levi W. Lawler: Served February 1885 – September 1892
- Gen. James T. Holtzclaw: Served February 1893 – July 1893
- Willis G. Clark: Served August 1893 – February 1895
- Harvey E. Jones: Served February 1895 – February 1899
- A.E. Caffee: Served February 1899 – February 1903
- William T. Sanders: Served April 1903 – January 1907
- Charles Henderson : Served January 1907 – February 1907
- W.D. Nesbitt: Served March 1907 – January 1911
- Leon McCord: Served January 1911 – January 1915
- B.H. Cooper: Served January 1915 – January 1923
- Fitzhugh Lee: Served January 1923 – January 1943
- Gordon Persons: Served January 1943 – January 1945
- James Perdue: Served May 1945 – January 1947
- James "Jimmy" Hitchcock: Served January 1947 – June 1959
- Ralph Smith, Jr.: Served August 1959 – August 1960
- Joe Foster: Served August 1960 – January 1963
- Ed Pepper: Served January 1963 – January 1967
- C.C. (Jack) Owen: Served January 1967 – January 1975
- Jim Zeigler: Served January 1975 – January 1979
- Pete Mathews: Served January 1979 – March 1981
- Lynn Greer: Served June 1981 – November 1990
- Jan Cook: Served November 1990 – January 2011
- Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh: Served January, 2011 – November 2012
- Jeremy H. Oden: Served November 2012 – Present
- Commissioner, Place 2
- Col. Charles P. Ball: Served February 1881 – February 1885
- Wiley C. Tunstall: Served February 1885 – February 1895
- Ross C. Smith: Served February 1895 – February 1899
- Osceola Kyle: Served February 1899 – December 1900
- Wiley C. Tunstall : Served December 1900 – January 1907
- John G. Harris: Served January 1923 – May 1936
- W.C. Harrison: Served June 1936 – January 1947
- C.C. (Jack) Owen: Served January 1947 – January 1951
- T.O. Walker: Served January 1951 – January 1955
- Sibyl Pool : Served January 1955 – January 1971
- Juanita W. McDaniel: Served January 1971 – January 1977
- C.C. "Chris" Whatley: Served January 1977 – January 1979
- Jim Folsom, Jr.: Served January 1979 – November 1986
- Charles B. Martin: Served November 1986 – November 1998
- George C. Wallace, Jr.: Served November 1998 – November 2006
- Susan Parker, PhD: Served November 2006 – January 2011
- Terry L. Dunn: Served January 2011 – present
- Alabama Public Service Commission website @ www.psc.state.al.
- Biringham News, November 5, 2008
- Jeremey H. Oden, Commissioner, Place 1