Former Public Service Commissioner Terry Dunn has decided to drop out of the race for PSC president.
In a statement Monday, Dunn cited one reason he would not seek the post is that he feared Alabama Power Co. will spend “a lot of money” to oppose him.
Alabama Power spokesman Michael Sznajderman has repeatedly said the company isn’t, and has never been, involved with Public Service Commission campaigns and elections.
“With the Republican Party now being the dominant party in the state,” Dunn’s statement says, “the Republican establishment needs to realize their obligations are not just to big businesses, but also the welfare of all individuals.”
As previously reported by Alabama Today, Dunn launched his latest effort to return to office Aug. 1, challenging incumbent PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh for the Republican Party nomination.
Last year, Dunn lost his re-election bid to remain on the commission, defeated by Greene County Commission Chairman Chip Beeker 59 to 41 percent.
During his time on the commission, Dunn received political pushback for advocating formal rate hearings for Alabama Power, something opposed by fellow commissioners Cavanaugh and Jeremy Oden.
The PSC handles setting rates for Alabama Power not through formal hearings, but by a process known as stabilization and equalization. Dunn argued the process gives an advantage to Alabama Power, allowing the utility to charge higher rates than those in other states.
In 2013, the commission held a series of public hearings before approving changes to Alabama Power’s rate formula. At the time, Cavanaugh and Oden insisted it helped keep rates lower. Dunn disagreed.
Alabama Power is raising rates 5 percent starting in 2015, a move equivalent to an increase of $6.78 a month for consumers using an average 1,000-kilowatt hours.
AL.com reports that under the old formula, rates would have increased by an additional $1 a month.
An Alabama Power representative also noted the most recent increase was the first since October 2011 and was necessary to recover rising energy costs.