Commissioner Beeker speaks at PCRW meeting

Published 4:00 am Thursday, April 23, 2015

Public Service Commissioner Chip Beeker discussed the Electric Grid and significant matters related to the state of Alabama with the Pike County Republican Women’s meeting on Wednesday. About 30 people were in attendance.

“I do notice that the PSC is often overlooked and is misunderstood all around the state,” Beeker said. “It’s one of the most misunderstood components in our state government. It’s a regulatory body, and it’s responsible for the safety of the citizens of Alabama.”

Beeker said that regulation is out of control on a federal level; however, the PSC works to find a balance. A major task for the PSC is attracting businesses that want to come to the state.

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“We don’t want a business without being sure that it is going to be safe for Alabama,” Beeker said.

The PSC, according to Beeker, has conservative values, and the changes they have made over the last few years reflect those values. They have decreased the number of employees it takes to run the business, reduced the percentage of in state and out of state travel, cut the budget etc. The PSC has made sure they are regulated while they continue to regulate issues in the state.

Beeker explained that inspectors travel across the state to check things such as natural gas pipelines and see how to make improvements.

“The PSC pays close attention to current events and how they affect the people of Alabama,” Beeker said. “One of the issues raised is the security of the Electric Grid.”

Pike County has an enviable location, due to low risks for tornadic weather, therefore power outages caused by weather happen less often.

Remembering April 27, 2011, and the thousands of people with power outages, the PSC works to prevent power outages caused by storms.

“Improvements are being made all of the time,” Beeker said. “To help control the impact of these, these utilities perform routine expectation and maintenance to their systems. To pre-assemble storm material kits is important. If you do that strategically and locate them across the territory so that response time is put to a real minimum, it pays off when it happens.”

Beeker described storms to be the most common threat to the Electric grid.

“In Alabama, we can take pride in our efforts,” Beeker said. The utilities, particularly Alabama Power, have won 15 storm response awards.

The Electric Grid is also a target for attackers and cyber terrorism.

“The key to security is to always keep attackers guessing,” Beeker said.