Aug 12, 2022 - Politics

Georgia public service commission elections will proceed in November

Illustration of a campaign button with a gavel on it.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

One week after a federal judge ruled Georgia's public service commission district structure disenfranchises Black voters, an appeals court ruled the November elections will proceed after all.

  • Driving the news: In a Friday filing, the 11th circuit court of appeals found it was too close to the elections to make such a change and doing so “'fundamentally alters the nature' of the upcoming elections."

Why it matters: The appeals court granted the defendants' request about the November elections without ruling on the bigger question, the constitutionality of how commissioners are elected.

Catch up quick: In last week’s decision a judge found the state’s utility regulatory body’s electoral structure—by which five at-large members are elected statewide but assigned to geographic districts—“unlawfully dilutes the votes of Black citizens under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”

The big picture: Georgia's Public Service Commission regulates the state's investor-owned utilities including Georgia Power.

  • It sets customers' utility rates, can assess fines for pipeline safety and oversees the construction budget of projects like the massive Plant Vogtle nuclear power plant expansion.

What's next: Plaintiffs could seek emergency relief from the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the impending November elections specifically.

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