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Affordable and Reliable Energy Continues to Play a Large Role in Alabama’s Economic Success

By Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh

When historians far in the future look back and debate the most significant moments in Alabama’s history, I deeply believe that the decision by France-based Airbus to construct a $600 million passenger plane production facility eventually employing about 1,000 workers in Mobile will be ranked among the most seminal events.

Just as our move away from an agrarian economy opened the door to industry in the early part of the 20th Century and Mercedes’ selection of Vance for its first American factory began the remarkable automotive revolution in our state, the Airbus plant decision could one day make Alabama the country’s entrenched leader in aerospace manufacturing.

Since the announcement, debate among business publications and financial writers has centered upon which factors played the largest role in cementing Mobile as the location of the Airbus facility, and Alabama’s ability to provide affordable utility rates and dependable energy production has been consistently credited among the likely reasons for the company’s decision.

While it is true that the quality of our world-class workforce and the dedicated work ethic of Alabamians give us a considerable advantage when competing for projects, being able to consistently meet the tremendous energy needs of such large facilities at a low cost price puts us over the top when compared to other states.

That is why I believe the Alabama Public Service Commission can be transformed into a fully committed partner in job recruitment and industrial development efforts within the state.  It makes sense that the agency charged with regulating energy utilities and setting rates for the product they provide should have a seat at the negotiating table and reassure industrial prospects that their energy needs in Alabama will be met.  That’s how you close a deal in today’s competitive environment.

Unfortunately, over burdensome regulations and needless mandates from the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency could soon force utility rates in Alabama to rise and hurt our state’s future economic development projects.

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The president and the left-wing officials at his EPA are currently working to implement job-killing environmental directives that would shut down our state’s coal industry and prohibit coal-fired energy production, which would cause utility rates in Alabama to skyrocket.  Their actions would also wipeout the 5,000 jobs that Alabama’s coal industry provides to families across the width and breadth of our state.

Liberal senators and congressmen from the Northeast are joining forces with these environmental extremists in hopes they can remove the competitive advantage that has allowed Alabama to successfully land companies like Airbus, Hyundai, Mercedes, Honda, Toyota and so many others.

It is vital that we use our votes, our voices and our representatives in Washington to repel these attacks and preserve the jobs that Alabamians depend upon so desperately.  I have often said that my top three priorities as a PSC commissioner and, hopefully, as the next PSC president are jobs, jobs and jobs, and I look forward to helping lead the fight against those who seek to cripple our economic development efforts.

By working together to oppose Obama’s EPA excesses and turning the PSC into an effective industrial development tool, we can ensure that the historians of the future judge us as the generation that made Alabama a true economic powerhouse rather than the one that failed to live up to the promise we were presented.


Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh serves as a commissioner on the Alabama Public Service Commission and will appear on the November 2012 ballot as the Republican nominee for president of the regulatory panel.

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