MOTHER's Newsworthies: Billy Lovett, Birch Bayh and Julia Child

Learn how Billy Lovett fights utility companies increase in funding; Birch Bayh fights for ecology and alternative energy use; and Julia Child sponsored a fund-raising event for Planned Parenthood.

| January/February 1981

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    Public Service Commissioner Billy Lovett, helped fight against rising utility costs for people in his state.
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    Julia Child — host of her own TV show The French Chef — says that she will never endorse products she doesn't believe in.  

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Brief: Billy Lovett

There are probably some Georgians who'd like to run Billy Lovett out of town ... but to many other residents of the Peach State, the young Public Service Commissioner's honesty and forthright opinions come as a welcome relief from the murky and condescending rhetoric folks usually receive from government officials.

Since joining the Commission a little over two years ago, Lovett has leveled a series of unrelenting attacks on the utility companies of his state, and on constant rate hikes. In fact — last spring — he successfully led the opposition to House Bill 1252, which would have approved a $120 million increase in the cost of electricity generated by Georgia Power!

Lovett called that piece of legislation "the greatest hoax since the Yazoo Land Fraud," because it would have required Georgia Power's customers to foot the bill for a number of power plants being constructed by the utility company ... facilities which, Lovett maintains, are totally unnecessary (as evidenced by Georgia Power's plans to sell the plants to out-of-state utilities).

Not even his own colleagues are safe from Lovett's attacks. In November of 1979, he opposed a move to make the PSC members appointed officials (they are now elected for terms of six years) ... and even urged that some of the longtime members of the board not be reelected when their terms expired. Several of those officials, he said, had fallen under the influence of the utility lobby and had lost touch with the general public they were supposed to be serving.

Commissioner Lovett is also an outspoken proponent of alternative energy sources. Maintaining that "we must decrease and eventually eliminate our dependence on nonrenewable resources and on activities destructive to the environment," he has published a 30-page proposal entitled "Meeting Georgia's Energy Needs in the 1980s." Lovett's energy plan, which he says is "designed for the people, not the utilities," recommends the establishment of a State Energy Efficiency Development (SEED) Authority, which would provide interest-free loans to residential consumers for the construction and use of alternative energy devices.

Brief: Birch Bayh

Before he was defeated in the November 1980 election, Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana provided a strong voice for ecology and alternative energy in the Senate. In addition to backing such environmental measures as the expansion of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the protection of national forest lands in his home state, the former legislator helped stop the construction of several proposed dams ... and was successful in amending a bill that authorizes the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to impose criminal penalties on deliberate violators of safety regulations. Senator Bayh also emerged — during his three terms on Capitol Hill — as a dedicated supporter of humane animal treatment.

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