Public Service Commission Candidate John Noel spoke at the Young Democrats of UGA meeting Wednesday, Feb. 7, calling for energy efficiency and change to the current commission.
Noel has a background in the energy sector and is running to represent District 3 on the Georgia Public Service Commission.
Ruth Pannill, president of Young Democrats of UGA, saw Noel speak at the Athens-Clarke County Democrats meeting a couple weeks ago and knew she wanted him to visit an upcoming meeting.
“I’ve never heard anyone talk about changing environmental policy in Georgia the way he does,” Pannill said. “He’s a candidate that cares deeply about the environment and the people of Georgia, and everyone in Georgia should vote for him.”
Raised on a farm in Franklin, Tennessee, Noel grew up dealing with the direct effects of droughts and other environmental hardships.
“When you’re connected to the land, it makes you care,” Noel said.
Noel attended Lake Forest College in Illinois where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history in 1994. Two years later, drawn by the Olympics, he moved to Atlanta where he has lived ever since.
In 1999, Noel founded Energy + Environment LLC, an energy efficiency contracting company that specializes in making large businesses and facilities more “green.”
“That’s my business. Save energy, save money, save the planet,” Noel said.
In 2002, Noel successfully ran for the Georgia State Legislature and served as an elected official before deciding to run for Georgia Public Service Commission.
Aside from being a business owner in the energy industry and former state representative, Noel said he brings something different to the Public Service Commission.
“I live it,” Noel said. “When I leave my office and I go to my home, I am living it.”
Noel has a 10 kW solar array on his home with a backup battery and was also one of the first electric car drivers in Georgia, according to his campaign website. If elected to the PSC, his first plan is to inform the people of Georgia about their energy possibilities.
“I want to go around the state and educate people on energy efficiency and show them that there’s a better way to use power,” Noel said. “Then I want to stop dumb stuff like building really expensive things when we can build a solar farm for a third of the price.”
Noel has been known to speak out against the current PSC staff and their recent vote to continue construction of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro.
The Plant Vogtle project is co-owned by Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities. As part of the decision to continue the project, future project costs will be allowed to be passed on to the ratepayers of these companies.
“I think that we can change Georgia by changing the Public Service Commission. We can save money, we can save the planet and we can do it all by flipping two seats out of commission,” Noel said.
The PSC is made up of five total members. The two commission seats Noel wants to flip are currently occupied by Chuck Eaton, Noel’s opponent, and Stan Wise, who is retiring after this year.
Noel believes his experience as an elected official, along with his knowledge in the energy and business industries, makes him the ideal candidate for the PSC.
“The public interest is not being represented in the PSC,” Noel said. “And that’s what I want to bring back.”
Georgia residents have the opportunity to vote on the PSC candidates during the primary elections on May 22, and the official election for public service commissioner will take place Nov. 6, 2018.