The Georgia Public Service Commission Denies Access for Accountability Group

The Georgia Public Service Commission Denies Access for Accountability Group After previously agreeing to allow a press conference at their offices, PSC denies accountability group access at the last minute

Subject: PRESS CONFERENCE ROOM CANCELLED

That was the email I received shortly after issuing a press release and I could not believe it. We were really being denied use of a public owned space after getting permission for the Chairman of the PSC just two weeks ago? Yep!

Today, along with the Georgia Conservation Voters Education Fund, we were all set to launch the GA PSC Accountability Project, an effort bring accountability to a commission that flies under many Georgian’s radars. One comprised of five politicians who decide how much you pay for utilities.

And we did, but had to do so with resistance by the PSC.

I guess it should come as no surprise that those who do not want attention when representing special interests over public interests would resist attempts to shine the light of transparency on their work and encourage citizens to engage with them, but this one still surprised me. Apparently, they were concerned with our press conference creating a precedent… a precedent of calling for accountability in a public building?

I received confirmation nearly two weeks ago from the Chairman of the PSC agreeing to allow us to hold a press conference on the site of their PUBLIC hearing on Georgia Power’s request to raise your electric bill $200 or more per year. I confirmed at the end of last week, but not until 47 minutes after sending out our press release and less than two hours before our press conference, I received an email canceling the acceptance of our PUBLIC request to use space owned by the PUBLIC…

Subject: PRESS CONFERENCE ROOM CANCELLED

The Executive Assistant to PSC Committee Chairman Lauren “Bubba” McDonald (among others) sent a short email stating:

I tried calling you and your voice mail is full. We are not able to accommodate you today for the press conference.   

Best regards…

I asked why, and here is a sampling of the responses from several sources, you can follow the links to see the full emails…

Just FYI, in 9 years we have never had a press conference here for anyone. Our building is hard to find and we don’t really have a good location.

Yet permission was granted and we were making plans for nearly two weeks!

Chairman McDonald discussed your requested use of a Public Service Commission conference room with senior staff. Together, they decided that allowing an outside organization to use our facilities for a press conference would be a first. To prevent setting a precedent, they decided it would not be proper and they respectfully decline your request.

Again, what dangerous precedent are we setting? More people paying attention to what they do?

[Mr.] Perry, you are welcome to hold your press conference on the sidewalk outside the building as many organizations have done in the past. Thanks for understanding.

So why approve it in the first place, only to cancel at the last minute?

While it was a trying day to get the information out, we did succeed in doing just that. More will be coming very soon about the Georgia Public Service Commission Accountability Project.

For now, grab your electric bill and see how much more Georgia Power wants you to pay for the same amount of power you use right now at www.DontRaiseMyBill.com

I’ll close out by leaving you with more reasons we were shut out today…

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