We start our cars and barely think about the complex systems under the hood. The same with flipping on a light switch. We just take for granted that the electricity will work. I spent a good part of my professional career “under the hood” of Georgia’s energy network as a commissioner and chair of the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC). We enjoy reliable and affordable electric service here in Georgia thanks to careful planning and market-based management of a diversified energy system.  
Energy sustains our economy and way of life. If you doubt, ask folks along the swath of calamity brought by Hurricane Idalia in South Georgia last August. In moments, modern civilization became 3rd world. Sanitation systems, traffic signals, hospitals, and light switches all failed to function. And then a modern miracle occurred as utilities across Georgia and the region rallied resources to restore the comforts and conveniences of modern life in record time. 
But maintaining our energy system is not just about restoring power. It’s also about managing our present grid and planning for the future. As with a diversified financial planning, Georgia’s energy portfolio contains a mix of resources. A century ago, our electric grid relied heavily on hydro power from North Georgia lakes. As droughts ensued and our population grew, coal-fired steam plants ensured reliability for the next several decades. In the 1970s, the state diversified by adding nuclear power to our mix. Beginning in the ‘80s and ‘90s, air quality concerns led to clean-burning natural gas replacing coal in many combustion plants. Then in the 2000s, concerns over carbon emissions and climate change, combined with the need to ensure long-term reliability and affordability, once again elevated nuclear power. The decision by electric utilities and the PSC to add more nuclear energy has already proven to be a wise one as oil and gas prices have increased along with tensions in Europe and the Middle East. Developing nuclear energy also enhances the United States’ security on the global stage. 
Throughout Georgia’s century-plus of electric evolution, our resolute objectives have been reliability and affordability. States like California that set carbon emission reductions as their overarching goal have created an unreliable electric grid while burdening consumers and businesses with some of the highest prices in the country. States like Texas that deregulated their markets without ensuring sufficient baseload generation and transmission have also suffered shortcomings in reliability and spikes in prices. And in Massachusetts, things have gotten so bad that their Attorney General, after an extensive review, recommended to their legislature that they move back to a more traditional utility model like Georgia’s.  

By contrast, Georgia has maintained its grid while responding to calls for more solar energy and other renewables with market-based solutions. In fact, Georgia is one of the top-10 fastest growing renewable energy states — without mandates that add cost to consumers or threaten the reliability of the grid.  

For the past decade, Georgia has been the best state in the country to do business. Almost every economic development prospect that locates here points to energy reliability and prices below the national average among their reasons for doing so. The electric vehicle ecosystem provides but one example, as automotive manufacturers, battery plants, and charging infrastructure all continue to locate and develop throughout our state.  
From 1882, when Thomas Edison first energized a small grid in downtown New York City, until today, and on into tomorrow, the grid will ever be evolving. A broad portfolio of resources is key to success in that ongoing evolution and Georgia’s energy model ensures that. Think about that the next time you flip a light switch…and it works.

Dave Baker is an Atlanta attorney who served as a commissioner and chairman on the Georgia Public Service Commission


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