PSC member seeks opinion on legality of chairmanship
A Georgia Public Service Commission member asked Attorney General Thurbert Baker today whether the commission’s vote for a two-year term for its new chairman was legal.
Georgia law says PSC chairmen serve for one-year terms, but the PSC voted 3-2 Tuesday to name Stan Wise as new chair for two years. Another member — Doug Everett, who is stepping down as chairman July 1 — said he believed the one-year restriction is unconstitutional.
Commissioner Chuck Eaton (right), who voted against the decision, wrote Baker this morning to ask for clarity.
Eaton said he did not believe the PSC followed proper channels in getting a legal opinion on the law. “I don’t think it’s under our authority to declare a law unconstitutional,” he said.
Eaton, elected in 2006, said he worries the PSC’s actions could face a court challenge next January, when the PSC would normally choose a new chairman. Anyone on the losing side of a PSC order could take the utility-regulating agency to court, alleging the chairman who signed the order was not selected properly, he said.
Eaton asked the commission yesterday to delay the vote until Baker’s office could be consulted. The vote proceeded anyway, with Wise referring to Baker as “just an attorney.”