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What is the PSC?

By Chris Peeks Febuary 7, 2022

I first laid out a broad overview of the Public Service Commission, what they do, their funding, and some other generalities about the office a few weeks ago. In the following articles, we're going to go more in-depth. So precisely what is the Public Service Commission? Going by their title that would mean they're public servants. But are they?

The public service commission is a quasi-independent, three-panel board headed by a commissioner and two-place seats. The commission is a statewide elected office. However, the commission still faces voters in north Alabama even though they don't regulate anything there because that falls up under the Tennessee Valley Authority, which is under the federal government's control. Public Service commissioners are also not bound by term limits, as are the state's constitutional officeholders. Therefore they can stay as long as they want unless they are voted out or do not run for re-election.

Formed in 1915 to replace the state's railroad commission, the legislature expanded their responsibilities in 1920 to regulate and set utility companies' rates they charge their customers. Today after further extension, they now oversee the companies that handle gas, water, communications, and trucking. They are paid quite handsomely for this too, over $100,000 a year, and try getting one on the phone. They are never in the office. I called in December and asked to speak to Twinkle, and they informed me she took the day off to spend Christmas with her daughter. I thought to myself; "it's December 2nd."

Speaking of Twinkle, let's look at who is all on the commission. I've already done an article on Mr. Oden, so I will leave him off. I'll start with her.

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, a deeply entrenched Montgomery insider, is in her third term as commission president. Born with a unique name that has taken her far in politics, she lets people know it. First of all, do you think she would ever had made it this far if her name were Susie or Beth? No, absolutely not. But she says it all the time, "you know me; I'm Twinkle."And everybody's like yeah or wait no. What do we know about her? Other than she is Twinkle.

She always comes up with the money to give back to the general fund during election years, but some stuff she does is funny. Like she has on her Twitter profile and campaign signs Jobs Jobs Jobs. Why I don't know, she has nothing to do with job creation. But probably the funniest is, in either 2012 or 2016 she had an ad about send Barack Obama a message by voting for her. Yeah, Twinkle, I'm sure the thought of you and what you can do to his presidency kept Obama awake at night. Who do you think you are? But I'll say it again. You always give money back to the general fund during an election year.

Beeker, a Greene County Commissioner for 20 years, is seeking his third term on the commission. Beeker says his primary responsibility is safety. Which sounds good but, I'm not sure what he means unless he's talking about cars running into trains which 85 collisions happen a year in Alabama, though I'm not sure how someone cannot see a train coming. I think saving the taxpayer's money while allowing utility companies to make a profit would be a good priority for you.

Speaking of that, I want to leave folks with one final thought here. Back in 2014, Twinkle Cavanaugh and Jeremy Oden approved a rate increase on the citizens of Alabama that did not affect Alabama Powers' profit margin. That 5% hike amounted to $72 a year. Now my question to you, Twinkle and Jeremy, why would you impose a 72 dollar-a-year "tax" on the consumers of Alabama for no good reason?

Chris Peeks

Reporter and Columnist

Alabama Political Contributor

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