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Oden, Beeker win re-election to Public Service Commission

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Republicans Jeremy Oden and Chris “Chip” Beeker have been re-elected to the utility-regulating Alabama Public Service Commission.

Oden defeated Democratic newcomer Cara McClure to win his second term in the Place 1 position on the three-member agency.

Beeker defeated Democratic challenger Kari Powell for the Place 2 seat on the three-member panel.

Oden previously served in the Alabama House but was appointed to the PSC by then-Gov. Robert Bentley in 2012. The former business owner and bank manager also is an ordained minister.

Oden says he spent part of his campaign trying to educate voters about what Public Service Commission does.

McClure campaigned on the idea that the Public Service Commission needs more transparency as it oversees state utilities. She charged that members spend too much of their time raising money for re-election and don’t concentrate enough on helping average people.

Beeker won his first four-year term on the PSC in 2014 after serving on the Green County Commission for two decades. He advocates using a mix of energy resources that includes coal despite the growth of less-expensive natural gas as a fuel.

Powell campaigned on lowering utility bills and criticized the profit margins the PSC has approved for state utilities. She also advocates increasing the use of solar energy in Alabama.

Powell is a freelance graphic designer from suburban Birmingham. Beeker owns a catfish and cattle farm in west Alabama.

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