Georgia Power raising rates

Georgia Power is raising rates in January, despite its recent announcement that it would lower rates because of lower fuel bills. Why raising? Mostly the new nukes and for a new natural gas plant. And 16% of the rise is for energy efficiency. Does that seem like the right proportion to you?

Kristi Swartz wrote for the AJC 1 Nov 2012, Georgia Power bills to increase,

The average Georgia Power bill will increase about 44 cents a month starting in January, not decrease as many might have expected when the company announced last month its fuel costs had dropped.

The utility, which serves 2.4 million customers, notified state regulators in October that it would be applying for a residential rate reduction because the amount it pays for fuel has fallen 7 percent, saving $122 million. The utility cannot profit from lower fuel costs and must pass those savings on to customers.

So why are customer rates going up?

About $1.05 of the typical residential bill will go toward paying for a new natural gas unit at Plant McDonough-Atkinson in Smyrna. That increase already was approved as part of a three-tiered rate hike set in 2010.

Yep, that’s that set-in-2010 and keep-rising-’till-2013 natural gas rate hike that Georgia Power got away with while complaining about any potential solar subsidies. The one AJC complained would be “on autopilot”: what’s called super-CWIP (Construction Work in Progress) because there’s no need for anybody to approve it annually. Solar already beats gas in overall price, wind was second to gas in 2011 added capacity, and of course natural gas isn’t nearly as clean as claimed: it is methane, after all, a greenhouse gas worse for climate change than CO2, and it does leak.

The second fee hike, about 36 cents, is to pay for Georgia Power’s energy efficiency programs, which are designed to help customers save energy and reduce their electricity bills.

How about more of that? No, not that bogus ALEC-sponsored amendment 2. Real energy conservation and efficiency, which in Georgia could remove any need for additional electricity generation. Add solar and wind we can shut down some more coal plants, some natural gas plants, and all the nukes.

The third increase is 85 cents. It is part of the $1.7 billion in financing costs that Georgia Power customers have been paying for two nuclear reactors in Waynesboro. The increase was originally projected to be $2.09, according to documents filed last year with the PSC.

We already have six Southern Company nukes near us (Hatch 1 & 2, Farley 1 & 2, and Vogtle 1 & 2). Do we really need more at those boondoggle prices?

And what didn’t we see listed? Anything for solar or wind power. There’s plenty of private capital waiting to fund that, but that’s What Georgia Power is afraid of: GaSU and Dr. Smith; and you.

This is the second time Georgia Power has run this bait and switch this year:

Earlier this year, Georgia Power cut average monthly residential bills $8, also because of decreased fuel costs.

Before that, bills had risen about $14 a month over a two-year period as Georgia Power sought increases help pay for two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle and two natural gas units at Plant McDonough.

Which is evidence that the nuke rate hikes are also super-CWIP, autopilot stealth tax increases disguised as Georgia Power bill increases. Maybe the PSC should wise up and stop letting Georgia Power get away with this! Oh, wait: 4 of 5 incumbent GA PSC Commissioners accept massive utility campaign contributions, and the fifth one:

“Even so, nearly one in five dollars in Echols’ contributions came from people or companies whose business is affected by PSC decisions, the review found.”

This is part of why “Georgia has the worst levels of corruption risk and lack of accountability of any state in the country.”

You have an opportunity Tuesday, November 6th, to vote for new Georgia Public Service Commissioners and new legislators who can imagine solar power in south Georgia. Help the sun rise over Georgia!