Links to the State Strategic Plan
The Governors State Strategic Plan sets forth six strategic priorities to move Georgia into the future. The Public Service Commission has responsibilities and activities that impact all six areas and has identified in this plan strategic directions and strategic objectives to further the statewide goals.
The economic development of Georgia is a key focus in the State Strategic Plan and the Governor notes that Georgia must have the foundation and infrastructure necessary to foster economic growth. Utility industries regulated by the PSC provide essential servicesmaybe the most critical to a healthy economy. Without adequate, reliable, safe and affordable electricity, telecommunications, natural gas, and commercial vehicle transportation, economic growth is not possible. However, reliable electric and gas supply at affordable prices is vital to industrial development. Business cannot thrive without access to technologically up-to-date telecommunications services at affordable rates. As regulated utilities are opened to competition, the PSC will ensure that the quality, reliability and affordability of these important services are not impaired. The PSC has always supported economic development in Georgia. In September of 1995, the Commission adopted a uniform statewide policy that recognizes the key role that all regulated utilities play in promoting economic development throughout the state. The Commissions action supplemented the B.E.S.T. (Business Expansion) Act that was unanimously passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Miller. The Commission ordered all utility companies under its regulatory jurisdiction to submit discounted rate proposals that would assist in retaining existing businesses in the state and serve to encourage new businesses to locate their operations in the state. Georgia Power Companys successful Economic Development rates for electric service is one example.
The states plan acknowledges that "Government is responsible for public safety. To accomplish this the state must maintain well-trained, effective law enforcement." The PSCs forty-two (42) enforcement officers located around the state enforce commercial motor vehicle safety regulations. The pipeline safety inspectors ensure that intrastate natural gas pipelines are designed, constructed, operated and maintained in compliance with safety standards. Both of these functions focus on preventing accidents and incidents that could adversely impact public safety. The PSC also inspects trucks and pipelines to detect safety violations and ensure that corrections are made. In the event of an incident or accident PSC officers and inspectors are called upon to investigate whether non-compliance with safety rules was a factor and what action to take to prevent a reoccurrence.
Efficient and Effective Government
The Governor has stated that "Delivering services to citizens in the most efficient and effective manner must be the primary concern of every government agency and every public employee." The PSC has identified numerous strategic objectives to focus its resources on achieving results in the most efficient manner possible. The combination of strategic planning and use of information technology has been the means for doing more with less. The PSC also encourages public and private partnerships and uses a collaborative process, where possible, to minimize the cost of regulation and to streamline proceedings.
The quality of life for all Georgians is a strategic priority in the states plan. Electricity, telecommunications, and natural gas are an integral part of modern life. To enjoy even the most basic standard of living Georgians must have access to utility services that are reliable and reasonably priced. The PSC is responsible for special programs such as the Universal Access Fund for telecommunications, the Universal Service Fund for natural gas, and Telecommunications Relay Services for persons with hearing and speech disabilities. These funds are designed to ensure that service is available to all citizens of the state regardless of their special needs.
Although not an agency with primary responsibility for environmental issues, the PSC impacts the quality and health of the environment in a number of ways. PSC transportation officers enforce regulations on the safe transport of hazardous materials throughout the state and assist in investigating the cause of spills when a commercial vehicle is involved. In addition, environmental issues have been raised in PSC proceedings relating to energy companies in order to ensure that they have the financial capability to comply with all applicable environmental laws and to prevent PSC decisions from having any unintended adverse environmental consequences. Examples of these include Clean Air Act compliance, nuclear waste disposal and clean up of coal tar sites. Even though incorporated primarily for safety, the pipeline replacement programs ordered by the Commission will significantly reduce methane emissions by the gas utilities in the major metropolitan areas.
The Governor envisions that in the future Georgians will see education as a lifetime pursuit. The availability and affordability of reliable service from regulated utilities directly impact education in the state, e.g., without electricity and a modern telecommunications system distance learning cannot happen. In addition the Commission uses education in many areas to achieve its objectives. The Transportation Safety and Pipeline Safety Units conduct educational programs for carriers and operators in the industry to teach safe practices to prevent safety-related accidents and incidents. Consumer Education and Public Information staff disseminates information about changes in the regulated industries and consumer protection issues. Education is a primary way of demonstrating commitment to the PSCs customers and stakeholders, which include all Georgia citizens.