The candidates are vying for two seats on the Public Service Commission with six-year terms to regulate Georgia Power Co. and Atlanta Gas Light Co. as well as overseeing the operation of the state's deregulated natural-gas and telephone markets.
The debate is sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club at the studios of Georgia Public Broadcasting which will telecast it across the state Oct. 21.
Commissioner Chuck Eaton, who's running for re-election, said he's looking forward to the opportunity to talk about the commission's efforts to minimize utility rates for families and as an attraction to employers.
"This year we've reduced electric rates for homeowners by 6 percent, eliminated the job-killing sales tax on energy used in manufacturing, and maintained the reliability and affordability that make Georgia a great place to live and an attractive location for companies," said Eaton, a Republican.
His two challengers have also accepted the club's offer. Democrat Steve Oppenheimer, a retired dentist, accepted barely moments after receiving the invitation, and Libertarian Brad Ploeger hasn't notified the club but said Tuesday he'll be there as well.
"I've done debates in college and high school," said Ploeger, who owns an information-technology and telecommunications consulting firm.
Ploeger looks forward to confronting Eaton about possible cost overruns on the expansion of Plant Vogtle.
Oppenheimer and Ploeger both want to debate the commission's ethics policies which they say create the appearance of impropriety if not outright conflicts of interest.
Libertarian David Staples has the same topics in mind for his debate with the other incumbent standing for re-election, Republican Stan Wise. Staples accepted the club's invitation almost immediately, but so far, Wise has not responded one way or the other.
When the club hosted debates during the summer primary, neither incumbent attended. Eaton's mother had recently died, and Wise had just undergone eye surgery.
Reluctance to participate in the club's forums has become an issue in another contest, the 12th Congressional District matchup between incumbent Democrat John Barrow and GOP challenger Lee Anderson. Barrow has accepted and has attacked Anderson for declining.
If Wise continues to hold out or turn down the invitation, Staples is likely to use it against him as well.