Where the Candidates Stand On Energy: Republican Nominee for Georgia Public Service Commission Lauren “Bubba” McDonald

In this blog, we examine the policies and positions of Lauren "Bubba" McDonald, the Republican candidate running for District 4 on Georgia's Public Service Commission. Also in this series we profile Daniel Blackman, Democratic candidate for District 4 on Georgia's Public Service Commission.

Jennifer Rennicks and Guest Blog | July 30, 2020 | Elections, Energy Policy, Georgia

This post is part of a series of blogs examining where 2020 Southeastern candidates for state and federal offices stand on key energy and climate issues. Note: The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy does not support or oppose candidates or political parties. Links to reports, candidate websites and outside sources are provided as citizen education tools.

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In this blog, we examine the policies and positions of Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, the Republican candidate running for District 4 on Georgia’s Public Service Commission. Also in this series we profile Daniel Blackman, Democratic candidate for District 4 on Georgia’s Public Service Commission. At present, no other candidates are listed on Ballotpedia for this district’s race.

While the exact roles and responsibilities of a Public Service Commissioner (or Public Utility Commissioner) vary from state to state, their general role is the regulation and oversight of essential utility services such as energy, telecommunications, and water. Some states, such as Georgia, elect the members of the Public Service Commission (PSC) while other states appoint their members through the Governor or the General Assembly. 

McDonald earned a BBA in Business from the University of Georgia. McDonald was first appointed to the PSC in 1998 by Governor Zell Miller to fill a vacated post and then won a special election to fill the remainder of that term from 1998 to 2002. He was then re-elected in 2008 and has served since. Before his time on the Commission, McDonald served 20 years in the Georgia House of Representatives. McDonald has also served on the Committee on Electricity of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and was the chair of the Subcommittee on Nuclear Issues and Waste Disposal. 

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

McDonald has stated he is “very open to improvements in technology that are market-driven and clean,” when asked about solar. McDonald is a strong proponent of solar and has said, “As a result of my efforts over the past ten years with the support from my colleagues on the Georgia PSC, we have successfully added more than 1 gigawatt of solar energy to Georgia Power’s portfolio with an additional 1.6 gigawatts scheduled to come online by the end of 2021.” McDonald’s approach to solar is market-based: “Georgia is one of the top five fastest-growing states in the nation for solar energy, and nuclear energy is the best friend to solar energy. I will direct our conservative and thoughtful free-market approach without putting upward pressure on rates and without state-sponsored financial incentives. These initiatives also create economic development and jobs for our citizens.”

McDonald does acknowledge the importance of clean energy and clean air when he says: “Georgia has achieved some of the cleanest air in the nation through conservative principles and conservative leadership. I will continue to combine the megawatts of nuclear energy, decommission out-of-date coal facilities and increasing solar power in the state.”

Climate Change

He has been quoted saying this about climate change, “I’m not going to sit here and just say it’s a bunch of ‘booey,’ because there may be some cause.” 

Electric Transportation

We were unable to confirm the candidate’s position on this energy-related issue in published media, public records, or the campaign website.

Energy Equity and Energy Burden

We were unable to confirm the candidate’s position on this energy-related issue in published media, public records, or the campaign website.

High-Risk Energy (Coal, Nuclear, Oil, Gas)

McDonald is a consistent supporter of nuclear energy and has consistently voted in favor of continuing to develop Plant Vogtle’s Units Three and Four. When asked about nuclear, he said “…to me, it’s foolproof. It’s amazing… nuclear has got to expand.” McDonald has supported solar over fracked gas: “Fuel from the sun is free, natural gas is a commodity.” In relation to coal, while serving on the PSC, McDonald voted with the rest of the Commission to approve the retirement of five older coal-burning units.

If you are interested in learning more about where your state’s candidates for federal and state office stand on energy, click here to access the entire 2020 blog series. We encourage readers to register to vote before registration deadlines, which are in early October but vary by state, and vote in the general election on November 3, 2020. For voting information in Georgia, including updates about the impact of COVID-19 on voting, click here. Stay tuned for more posts in this series to come!

READ THE ‘WHERE THE CANDIDATES STAND’ BLOG SERIES

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This blog was researched and co-written by Suzanne Hollis, a rising junior at the University of North Carolina studying environmental science quantitative energy systems and physics. Suzanne is from Atlanta, Georgia and is a summer intern with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Jennifer Rennicks
Since 2006 Jennifer has worked with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Action Fund to to advance stronger federal, state, and utility clean…
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