Tag Archives: Georgia Sierra Club

Columbus against Georgia Power solar tariff

Getting an earful across the state about that proposed solar rate hike: Georgia Power and the Georgia Public Service Commission, first in Savannah, then in Columbus.

Mike Owen wrote for the Ledger-Enquirer 21 October 2013, Georgia Public Service Commission: Public decries Georgia Power rate hike, solar power fee,

A crowd of about 50 people gave Georgia Public Service Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton an earful Monday night concerning a proposed Georgia Power rate hike and controversial proposal to charge solar power users a new fee.

At a public hearing in the auditorium of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, Eaton heard several audience members call the rate hike “bad business practice” and “unconscionable,” while calling the solar proposal “a step backward” and a “disincentive” for modern, clean technology.

At issue is a two-pronged proposal before the PSC. Georgia Power is asking the commissioners to approve a $482 million rate hike that would add almost $100 a year to average residential electric bills, said Seth Gunning, an organizer for the Sierra Club of Georgia, one of the meeting’s sponsors. It [Georgia Power] is also asking the PSC to allow it to levy a fee on those who install solar panels on their homes or businesses.

The story continues with Continue reading

More solar by Georgia Power –GA PSC

It’s a win for jobs and clean air and plenty of water in Georgia! Doubled requirements on solar power, and a dozen coal plants shut down.

2, 4, 6, 8, solar power can’t wait!

The astroturf resistance fizzled, while the pro-solar grassroots coalition won. (Pictures of the two demonstrations by Ted Terry.)

525 megawatts more solar power required, on top of last year’s 210 megawatts, for more than 735 MW total. That’s still trailing New Jersey’s already-installed 1,000 MW, but it’s a big step forward.

The vote was either 4 to 1 ( Ray Henry of AP) or 3 to 2 (Georgia Sierra Club tweeting from the Commission chamber). As Ray Henry tweeted:

“All opposed, say aye.” Wait, what? #gapsc

I’m guessing at least one nay vote was Stan Wise, judging by these @gasierraclub tweets: Continue reading

Already: Solar grid parity without subsidies in India and Italy

Solar power is going so well worldwide that Deutsche Bank has just increased its projections for global demand, noting that India and Italy have already in 2013 reached grid parity without subsidies with other sources of energy, and it expects the rest of the world to follow as early as 2014. The big winner is rooftop solar. Is Georgia paying attention?

Becky Beetz wrote for Global PV 26 February 2013, Deutsche Bank: Sustainable solar market expected in 2014,

Buoyed by bullish demand forecasts, and increasing utilization rates and pricing, Deutsche Bank forecasts a solar market transition from subsidized to sustainable in 2014. Italy REC solar photovoltaic plant

The German bank has raised its 2013 global solar demand forecast to 30 GW — representing a 20% year-on-year increase — on the back of suggestions of strong demand in markets including India, the U.S., China (around 7 to 10 GW), the U.K. (around 1 to 2 GW), Germany and Italy (around 2 GW).

Rooftop installations are, in particular, expected to be a main focus, says Deutsche Bank. A trend for projects being planned with either “minimal/no incentives” has also been observed, despite the belief that solar policy outlooks are improving, particularly in the U.S., China and India, and “other emerging markets”.

More analysis by Jeff Spross in ThinkProgress 3 March 2013, Solar Report Stunner: Unsubsidized ‘Grid Parity Has Been Reached In India’, Italy–With More Countries Coming in 2014.

As Renew Economy also points out, this is the third report in the past month

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Levy Co. FL nuke likely not to be built

Cost already sunk Kewaunee, Calvert Cliffs, Crystal River, and are gnawing away at San Onofre: now it looks like new owner Duke is not likely to build Progress Energy's Levy County, Florida reactor. All that plus even in Georgia, even against all-powerful Georgia Power, there's a reaction against the cost of the always-later always-more-expensive new nukes at Plant Vogtle on the Savannah River. A reaction that's getting written up in the Valdosta Daily Times.

In the VDT today from AP, Some leaders souring on nuclear power costs. I'm quoting from the abcNews version because it includes the author's name, Ray Henry, and the original date, 3 March 2013. I added all the links and images.

As the cost of building a new nuclear plant soars, there are signs of buyer's remorse.

The second-guessing from officials in Georgia and Florida is a sign that maybe the nation is not quite ready for a nuclear renaissance. On top of construction costs running much higher than expected, the price of natural gas has plummeted, making it tough for nuclear plants to compete in the energy market.

In Georgia last week, Southern Co. told regulators it needed to raise its construction budget for Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia by $737 million to $6.85 billion. At about the same time, a Georgia lawmaker sought to penalize the company for going over budget, announcing a proposal to cut into Southern Co.'s profits by trimming some of the money its subsidiary Georgia Power makes.

And Southern Company and Georgia Power slipped the Plant Vogtle schedule still more, from 15 to 19 months late.

The legislation has a coalition of tea party, conservative and consumer advocacy groups behind it, but faces a tough sale in the Republican-controlled General Assembly. GOP Rep. Jeff Chapman found just a single co-sponsor, Democratic Rep. Karla Drenner.

That's HB 267: Financing costs; construction of nuclear generating plant. And AP failed to mention Georgia Sierra Club's support for HB 267.

As a regulated monopoly, Georgia Power currently earns about 11 percent in profits when it invests its own money into power projects. Chapman's legislation would reduce those profits if the nuclear project is over budget, as is the current projection.

In Florida, there's a move to completely eliminate Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) such as is being used in Georgia to pre-fund the new Plant Vogtle nukes.

In Florida, lawmakers want to end the practice of utilities collecting fees from customers before any electricity is produced.

Florida only recently got CWIP, but Progress Energy has been quick to profit by it:

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HB 267 Would Limit Georgia Power’s Profits on Vogtle’s Cost Overruns —GA Sierra Club

There’s still time to contact your state legislators about stopping Georgia Power profitting from cost overruns on the new nukes at Plant Vogtle. Georgia Sierra Club spells out why.

Georgia Power’s expansion at Plant Vogtle will bring us power that is dangerous, expensive and unnecessary.

You may remember a controversial bill the Georgia Legislature approved in 2009, SB 31, the Nuclear Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) bill, which forces Georgia Power ratepayers to pay the financing costs during construction, rather than over the life of the plant. Large users of electricity are exempt from the charge, but residential and mom and pop businesses have been paying for two years.

Even after that sweetheart deal, the Public Service Commissioners scrapped their staff proposal to stop the company from profiting on cost overruns for the project after they top $300 million.

The most recent reports from the independent monitor established by the PSC says

that the project is months behind and as of December, $88 million over budget. Georgia Power gets to earn 11.15% return on all expenses approved by the PSC, so the more they have to spend, the more they get to make and the more ratepayers get to pay!

Putting the profit issue aside for the moment, if the Georgia PSC ever decided to disapprove cost overruns, Georgia Power could take a page from the Mississippi Power playbook and just get the Legislature to let them issue bonds to pay for the work.

HB 267 by freshman Rep. Jeff Chapman excludes the collection of any profits on cost overruns beyond the $6.4 billion the Public Service Commission has approved. The bill is co-sponsored by Avondale Estates Democrat Karla Drenner, who is a member of the Utilities Committee, to which the bill was assigned. Passage of this bill would provide an incentive for Georgia Power to keep expenses down at Vogtle, something that SB 31 failed to do.

It isn’t fair for Georgia Power to profit to the tune of over 11% on delays, overruns and mismanagement, so ask your State Representative to support HB 267.


We can charge you even if it’s cancelled! —CWIPped Georgia Power

Steve Willis An excellent article about the problems with Georgia Power’s new nukes on the Savannah River gets at something you may not know: they can charge you for them even if they’re cancelled!

Steve Willis wrote for the Georgia Sierran Oct./Nov./Dec. 2012 page 5, Overruns, Uncertainty Plague Vogtle Expansion,

If Southern Company abandons this project, the CWIP law not only allows Southern Company to keep all of the CWIP payments legally extorted from customers, but allows them to keep CWIP fees in place or even increase them until all their costs and profits have been fully recovered. Due to the run-away cost overruns, the CWIP charge on your monthly bill is already more than three times what Southern Company confidently claimed it would be at this time when they presented their case to “your” Georgia legislature in 2009.

And that 2009 legislature rubberstamped CWIP so it appears on your Georgia Power bill as Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery Rider. Willis reminds us that the 2 nukes already at Plant Vogtle were projected to be four nukes for $600 million and ended up being two for $9 billion.

Everyone has heard the saying “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” If the Vogtle expansion costs balloon, as many analysts expect, it will cost

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Another $3.5 billion nuclear cost overruns coming —David Staples @ HBA 2012-10-18

David A. Staples running for the Georgia Public Service Commission for District 5, talked about the ethical conflicts of the incumbents who take almost all of their campaign contributions from people associated with the utilities they regulate. Then he mentioned that the new nuclear reactors Georgia Power is building for Southern Company at Plant Vogtle have another $3.5 billion in cost overruns coming.

This is after the PSC incumbents just rubberstamped the Vogtle budget in August, and on top of the $900 million in cost overruns we already knew about. That $900 million was already more than 6% of the originally-projected $14 billion total cost. If it’s now $3.5 + $0.9 = $4.4 billion, that’s more than 31% over the original total. Maybe we should vote in some PSC members and legislators who will stop this nonsense.

Here’s the video:

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Elect Georgia Public Service Commissioners to represent you

GA PSC The Georgia Public Service Commission decides how much you pay for energy. If you’re tired of Georgia Power’s three-legged nuclear regulatory-capture stool and Georgia lagging far behind other states in solar and wind energy, or you just want PSC members who will represent you and who do not accept massive campaign contributions from the utilities they regulate or their employees or lawyers like the incumbents do; the incumbents who can’t even be bothered to show up for debates or to answer questionnaires.

David Staples for GA PSC Steve Oppenheimer for GA PSC Here are two GA PSC challengers who did answer a questionnaire: Democrat Steve Oppenheimer and Libertarian David Staples. Early voting has already started: you can vote for them today.

let the sun shine on Georgia While you’re at it, you can vote for statehouse legislators who will let the sun shine on Georgia.


GA PSC questionnaire answers: Steve Oppenheimer

Steve Oppenheimer The Georgia Sierra Club sent a questionnaire to all candidates for Georgia Public Service Commission. None of the incumbents answered. The two challengers did. Here’s the one from Steve Oppenheimer for District 3. -jsq

  1. As a Candidate for Public Service Commission, what is your campaign strategy for achieving 50% +1 of the votes cast?

    [I’m omitting the answers to this question. -jsq]

  2. How should the Public Service Commission consider and weight the impacts to community health (asthma, cancer rates, etc.) and on Georgia’s environmental (water quantity, air quality etc.) when making decisions about a utility’s generation portfolio?

    The PSC has a major role shaping energy policy for Georgia. I would like to schedule PSC hearings on the relationship of power production and our air, water, morbidity and mortality and our general quality of life. My professional background in dentistry & health care provides a keen understanding of the relationship of power generation and health. Dr David Satcher, former US Surgeon General and Executive Director Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse University has become a friend and part of my professional network during the campaign. I would like to see PSC convene hearings on the topic. Georgians for a Healthy Future, a relatively new, broad based, organization would provide another forum for discussion of these issues. Membership in Georgians for a Healthy Future includes Georgia Legislators on both sides of the aisle. The PSC must be a leader on these issues—as the legislature as a body will likely not be progressive on these issues.

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GA PSC questionnaire: David Staples

David Staples The Georgia Sierra Club sent a questionnaire to all candidates for Georgia Public Service Commission. None of the incumbents answered. The two challengers did. Here’s the one from David A. Staples for District 5. -jsq

  1. As a Candidate for Public Service Commission, what is your campaign strategy for achieving 50% +1 of the votes cast?

    [I’m omitting the answers to this question. -jsq]

  2. How should the Public Service Commission consider and weight the impacts to community health (asthma, cancer rates, etc.) and on Georgia’s environmental (water quantity, air quality etc.) when making decisions about a utility’s generation portfolio?

    Impacts to community health and the environment have to be considered very carefully. I know there are a number of different ways of viewing the situation but the explanation I’ve found that works best with Republicans in trying to get their support is that it comes down to a private property matter. The right to swing ones fist ends at the other person’s nose. Does anyone have the right to pollute the air that I breathe or the water that I drink?

    If I buy a piece of property for instance along the Savannah River or Ogeechee River, does someone upstream from me have the right to pollute the water that then flows onto my land, carrying those pollutants with it?

    Absolutely not.

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