Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 19

GEORGIA'S Energy Outlook

By Dennis Chastain
Commissioner photos courtesy of
the Georgia Public Service Commission

Georgia PSC meets legislative challenge
to promote rural broadband

I

n December, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) voted unanimously to take steps
that will advance rural broadband deployment
in our state. Commissioners voted to require electric
membership cooperatives (EMCs) to give qualified
broadband providers access to their utility poles for
new attachments in unserved areas for $1 per pole
per year. The promotional rate is available to broadband providers for six years-an unprecedented
incentive to promote high-speed internet expansion.
Equally important, the PSC's decision protected
more than 4 million EMC member-owners from the
possibility of an energy rate increase by establishing
a fair pole-attachment rate in areas of the state that
already have broadband service. The commissioners
made this decision based on months of research and
in-person investigation, during which they learned
the true cost to an EMC and its member-owners
of owning and maintaining utility poles. Other
proposals were considered by the commission, but
they could have caused a rate hike for EMC energy
consumers. PSC Commissioners Chuck Eaton,
Tim Echols, Lauren " Bubba " McDonald, Tricia
Pridemore and Jason Shaw chose instead to protect
ratepayers from higher costs while promoting
broadband expansion at the same time-a win-win
solution for all of Georgia.
The PSC was charged with making this decision
by the Georgia Broadband Opportunity Act, a bill
passed by the 2020 Georgia General Assembly and
signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp. After more than
a decade of unsuccessful deliberation on the issue of
pole-attachment rental rates, the legislature charged
the PSC with the responsibility of setting a rate, once

and for all. Legislators noted during the passage of
the bill that the PSC had the experience, expertise,
staff and resources to tackle the complicated issue.
However, legislators also directed the PSC to ensure
that the rate is " just, reasonable, nondiscriminatory
and commercially reasonable. " The commissioners
embraced the responsibility and did exactly as the
Georgia General Assembly asked, immersing
themselves for five months in a complex and
technical rate case.
Georgia's 41 electric cooperatives applaud
the commissioners and PSC staff for grasping the
unique challenges and opportunities of the EMCs'
critical infrastructure in rural Georgia. EMCs are
committed to the pursuit of community-based
solutions for rural broadband. Exciting announcements about broadband deployment were made
last year by Amicalola EMC, Carroll EMC, Cobb
EMC, Colquitt EMC and Diverse Power, joining Blue
Ridge Mountain EMC and Habersham EMC, which
were already providing broadband services. More
announcements are expected in the coming months
as EMCs continue their long-standing dedication to
improving the quality of life for their more than
4 million members.
For more information about EMCs and rural
broadband or the PSC rate case on pole attachments, please visit EMCs4RuralBroadband.com.
Dennis Chastain is president/CEO of Tuckerbased Georgia EMC, the statewide trade association representing the state's 41 electric cooperatives,
Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia Transmission Corp.
and Georgia Systems Operations Corp.

Georgia Public Service Commissioners

Chuck Eaton

Tim Echols

Lauren " Bubba "
McDonald

Tricia Pridemore

Jason Shaw

www.georgiamagazine.org

19


http://www.EMCs4RuralBroadband.com http://www.georgiamagazine.org

Georgia Magazine - February 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - February 2021

Contents
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 4
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 5
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 6
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 7
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 8
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 9
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 10
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 11
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 12
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 13
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 14
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Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 16
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 17
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 18
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 19
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 20
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 21
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 22
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Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 24
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 25
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 26
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 27
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 28
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 29
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 30
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 31
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 32
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 33
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - 34
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - February 2021 - Cover4
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