Alabama Public Service Commission

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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.[1]

Election of commissioners[edit]

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.

Current commissioners[edit]

  • President: Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R)
  • Associate Commissioners:
    • Chip Beeker (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.[2] 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. In July 2014, Cavanaugh called on the people of Alabama to pray for God's intervention to prevent the EPA's proposed regulations for coal-power plants from taking effect, stating that the EPA was attempting to take "what God's given a state" from the people of Alabama. [3]

Commissioner Chip Beeker was elected in 2014 when he defeated incumbent Republican Terry Dunn in the GOP primary runoff on July 15, 2014. Beeker was unopposed in the general election that November.

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.[4] Commissioner Oden was nominated on June 3, 2014 for a full four year term. Oden was unopposed in the general election.

History and prior commissioners[edit]

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 served a single term on the PSC. He was elected State Auditor in November, 2014 and on January 19, 2015 returned to statewide office. He is a vocal opponent of what he terms "wasteful government spending" and a critic of Governor Robert Bentley.

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 to eventual nominee, George Wallace.

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 26 lives. He was the nephew 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 from office—Juanita McDaniel and Kenneth "Bozo" Hammond. Hammond later was elected Mayor of his native Valley Head, Alabama.

Sybil Pool became the first of six women to serve on the PSC when she took office in January, 1955.

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. Greer was then three times elected to the state legislature again as recently as 2014 as a Republican.

Years
President Place 1 Place 2
1881 Walter L. Bragg (D) James Crook (D) Charles P. Ball (D)
1882
1883
1884
1885 Henry R. Shorter (D) Levi W. Lawler (D) Wiley C. Tunstall (D)
1886
1887
1888
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893 James T. Holtzclaw (D)
Willis G. Clark (D)
1894
1895 Harvey E. Jones (D) Ross C. Smith (D)
1896
1897 James Crook (D)
1898
1899 A. E. Caffee (D) Osceola Kyle (D)
1900
1901 John V. Smith (D) Wiley C. Tunstall (D)
1902
1903 William T. Sanders (D)
1904
1905 B. B. Comer (D)
1906
1907 Charles Henderson (D) William D. Nesbitt (D) John G. Harris (D)
1908
John A. Lusk (D)
1909
1910
1911 Leon C. McCord (D) Frank N. Julian (D)
1912
1913
1914
1915 Samuel P. Kennedy (D) Blucher H. Cooper (D) Samuel P. Gaillard (D)
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923 Andrew G. Patterson (D) Fitzhugh Lee (D) Frank P. Morgan (D)
1924
1925
1926
1927 Hugh S. White (D)
1928
1929
1930
1931
1932
1933
1934
1935
1936
W. Clint Harrison (D)
1937
1938
1939
1940
1941
1942
1943 Gordon Persons (D)
1944
1945 Gordon Persons (D) James Perdue (D)
1946
1947 Jimmy Hitchcock (D) C. C. (Jack) Owen (D)
1948
1949
1950
1951 C. C. (Jack) Owen (D) T. O. Walker (D)
1952
1953
1954
1955 Sibyl Pool (D)
1956
1957
1958
1959
Ralph Smith Jr. (D)
1960
Joe Foster (D)
1961
1962
1963 Ed Pepper (D)
1964
1965 T. Eugene (Bull) Connor (D)
1966
1967 C. C. (Jack) Owen (D)
1968
1969
1970
1971 Juanita W. McDaniel (D)
1972
1973 Kenneth (Bozo) Hammond (D)
1974
1975 Jim Zeigler (D)
1976 C. C. (Chris) Whatley (D)
1977 Juanita W. McDaniel (D) C. C. (Chris) Whatley (D)
1978
1979 Pete Matthews (D) Jim Folsom Jr. (D)
1980 William J. Samford Jr. (D)
1981 Billy Joe Camp (D) Lynn Greer (D)
1982
1983 Jim Sullivan (D)
1984
1985
1986
1987 Charles Martin (D)
1988
1989
1990
1991 Jan Cook (D)
1992
1993
1994
1995 Jim Sullivan (R)
1996
1997
1998
1999 George Wallace Jr. (R)
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007 Susan Parker (D)
2008
2009 Lucy Baxley (D)
2010
2011 Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R) Terry L. Dunn (R)
2012
2013 Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R) Jeremy H. Oden (R)
2014
2015 Chip Beeker (R)
2016
Years
President Place 1 Place 2

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Alabama Public Service Commission website @ www.psc.state.al.
  2. ^ Biringham News, November 5, 2008
  3. ^ Diel, Stan. "Pray God blocks EPA plan, chief regulator of Alabama utilities tells consumers". www.al.com. Alabama Media Group. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Jeremey H. Oden, Commissioner, Place 1

External links[edit]