Tag Archives: PSC

Solar faster, cheaper, no cooling water, no leaks, no explosions

Way back in 2014 I calculated that half the right of way acreage of the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline could produce just as much electricity, cheaper, faster, taking no land, using no cooling water, risking no leaks or explosions. Solar is even cheaper now, doubling deployed capacity every two years, and even Duke, FPL, and Georgia Power are building solar farms everywhere. So why do utilities persist in building more pipelines?

Net generation, United State, all sectors, monthly, Chart
Net generation, United States, all sectors, monthly, U.S. EIA.

Every electric utility can read that chart from the U.S. Energy Information Agency, which shows wind (the middle orange line) and solar (the green line coming up from the bottom) adding up to almost all of “other renewables” (the top blue line), with nothing else growing like that. All the pipelines rammed through regulatorially captured agencies don’t come close Continue reading

Get Bellsouth to supply DSL on Hambrick Road —Timothy Nessmith @ LCC 2012-04-24

DSL in Lowndes County for fast Internet access? County Commission Chairman Ashley Paulk passed the buck on citizen Timothy Nesmith’s question about that, at the 24 April 2012 Regular Session of the Lowndes County Commission.

Chairman Paulk violated the Commission’s own Policies and Procedures for Citizens Wishing to be Heard by saying Timothy Nessmith didn’t get a chance to fill out the appropriate form, but he was welcome to speak anyway. Now I think that’s a silly rule, and if the Chairman is going to waive it for one person, they might as well revoke it for all citizens so nobody has to sign up.

Nessmith wanted the Commission to pressure BellSouth to provide DSL on Hambrick Road.

Chairman Paulk chose to answer that by saying it was a Public Service Commission issue, and adding that due to housing density on that road “they [presumably the telephone company] can’t make it work economically.”

Like my neighbor Chairman Paulk, I know Nessmith’s neighborhood (Nessmith lives around the corner from me, although I had no idea he was going to speak, and have never discussed his issue with him). Later I will post some things the Commission could do.


Why CWIP is a bad idea

Iowa is rejecting CWIP, and Georgia can, too. Here’s why.

Herman K. Trabish wrote for Green Tech Media 22 February 2012, The Nuclear Industry’s Answer to Its Marketplace Woes: Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) financing shifts the risks of nuclear energy to utility ratepayers,

A sign of the nuclear industry’s difficult situation in the aftermath of Fukushima is a proposal before the Iowa legislature
“Construction Work in Progress was intended to circumvent the core consumer protection of the regulatory decision-making process,”
that would allow utility MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, to build a new nuclear facility in the state using Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) financing (also called advanced cost recovery).

“Investment in nuclear power is the antithesis of the kind of investments you would want to make under the current uncertain conditions,” explained nuclear industry authority Mark Cooper, a senior fellow for economic analysis at Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment. “They cannot raise the capital to build these plants in normal markets under the normal regulatory structures.”

CWIP would allow the utility to raise the money necessary to build a nuclear power plant by billing ratepayers in advance of and during construction.

“Construction Work in Progress was intended to circumvent the core consumer protection of the regulatory decision-making process,” Cooper explained. “It exposes ratepayers to all the risk.” The nuclear industry’s answer to its post-Fukushima challenges, he said, “is to simply rip out the heart of consumer protection and turn the logic of capital markets on their head.”

And the Iowa Utilities Board staff agreed with Cooper and recommended against CWIP.
His message to policymakers is simple, Cooper said. “This is an investment you would not make with your own money. Therefore, you should not make it with the ratepayers’ money.”
Meanwhile, in Georgia: Continue reading

Who to contact about nuclear vs. solar

Somebody asked who to write about the nuclear costs Georgia Power is passing through to customers. Here’s the contact page for the Georgia Public Service Commission.

PSC Commissioner Lauren McDonald has been the most vocal about wanting Georgia Power to do solar. Commissioner Chuck Eaton and Tim Echols have both said in public they want more solar. PSC staff member Tom Newsome tried to get gapower to accept a better nuclear profit deal.

Don Parsons, chair of the energy committee of the Georgia House of Representatives, wants to write an energy plan for Georgia. A real one; not that bogus one from 2006 that nobody followed anyway.

Doug Stoner, Georgia State Senator, has said that Georgia Power wasn’t building nuclear plants with private money; they were using public money, and that even a public utility is a subsidy. So it appears he gets it.

Scott Holcomb, Georgia State Representative, wants a state energy policy, and has said:

Our lack of an energy policy is an absolute Achilles heel of our national policy.
So we should get on with a real energy strategy for Georgia.

Click on the pictures of each of the legislature members for their contact information. Even better, contact your state representative or senator. Or federal, since I think the new Plant Vogtle construction gets federal subsidies, too. Or write your local newspaper, or your local TV station, or the AJC.


Georgia Power wants taxpayers to take profit risk for new nukes

After already hiking rates to pay for Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4, Georgia Power now balks at taking any risk to its profit if costs go above the projected budget.

Kristi E. Swartz wrote in the AJC today, Georgia Power trashes regulatory staff’s financial proposal for Vogtle cost overruns:

Georgia Power officials told state regulators they never would have started to build a new multi-billion-dollar nuclear power plant if they knew the company might be on the hook for certain potential cost overruns.

The company, they said, would be building a natural gas plant instead.

Georgia Power, which is the largest stakeholder in a partnership building two new reactors at Plant Vogtle, is responsible for $6.1 billion of the $14 billion project. The Georgia Public Service Commission’s staff wants to cut into the utility’s allowed profit margin if the project runs more than $300 million over budget. Profits would similarly get a boost if the reactors come in under budget by the same amount.

The PSC deal sounds fair to me, or actually rather generous.

But not to the big-company socialists at Georgia Power:

At a PSC hearing Wednesday, company executives said the proposal could drive up financing costs of the project, potentially damage the ability to raise capital and eventually increase customer bills.

“As a member of the management team of the company, if this mechanism had been part of the original certification, we very likely would have not proceeded [with the project],” said Ann Daiss, Georgia Power’s comptroller.

Privatize the profits; socialize the risks! That’s the ticket!

They could spend less money building distributed solar farms and wind generators and get them built a lot faster with very little risk of cost overruns. Why isn’t Georgia Power interested in that?

“Even under the most adverse outcomes, the units remain highly profitable with very limited risk for investors,” [PSC staff member Tom] Newsome said. “We’ve been talking a lot about investors in this hearing and I think we need to be talking about [customers].”
Profits paid for by customer rate hikes and taxes from you, the taxpayer. You’d have a better deal if Georgia Power built solar and wind plants.


PS: Owed to Mandy Hancock.

PSC lining up to vote for solar

Previously PSC Chair Lauren McDonald said he wanted Georgia Power to “come up with options in the next 30 days for expanding the tiny amount of electricity generated from solar power”. Yesterday, PSC Commissioner Chuck Eaton said “Solar is great for diversity, independence, research, and business,” and added that until recently he had discounted solar, but now he had seen it. And it turns out that Friday PSC Commissioner Tim Echols wrote an op-ed saying
It wasn’t until I entered the training room of Mage Solar in Dublin and saw 40 subcontractors in their solar academy that I got it. The growing solar industry is not just about funky collectors on a roof or left-leaning environmentalists who hate fossil fuel. It is about skilled jobs in manufacturing and construction, about economic development in Georgia, about consumers saving money on their power bill so they can spend it somewhere else, and about empowering people to essentially create their own power plant. This could eventually be big.
That’s three out of five commissioners. I’d call that a majority shaping up to do something in the PSC Energy Committee meeting of 16 July 2011. I couldn’t say what, exactly, since there nothing on the energy committee’s agenda about this. But something solar seems to be in the works.


Georgia Power needs to expand solar —Lauren McDonald, Chairman, GA PSC

An unlikely ally in getting Georgia Power to do solar. Maybe too unlikely.

Kristi E. Swartz wrote in the AJC 8 June 2011, Regulator: Georgia Power needs more solar sources

Georgia utility regulator Lauren McDonald wants Georgia Power to come up with options in the next 30 days for expanding the tiny amount of electricity generated from solar power..

“I think we need to take an aggressive move and explore what we can do,” McDonald, a veteran member of the Public Service Commission, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I don’t think the company and even our staff has been challenged to the degree that they should be.”

Georgia Power responded saying they would “comply”. Which doesn’t mean much since there’s nothing but one person’s opinion to comply with.

I tend to agree with Neill Herring on this one:

Neill Herring, a lobbyist for the Sierra Club, called the action “back scratching.”

“They both get to look responsible,” said Herring, adding that there’s a growing and vocal solar lobby in Georgia. “They have to deal with those people. That’s what this is about.”

So I guess we need to be more vocal to get them to scratch harder.

The article notes:

Georgia Power has resisted building solar and other alternative energy projects for years, citing cost and a cloudy Southeast as the two main issues.
Which of course are both bogus excuses, since solar already costs less than nuclear to deploy, and Georgia Power’s own web pages admit that:
…insolation values in Georgia are significant enough to support solar energy systems in our state, with the southern two-thirds of Georgia having equivalent solar insolation values to most of the state of Florida.
Also more sun than Houston, which is busily deploying solar, and the same amount as Austin, which is a national leader in solar.

Maybe some cities also could suggest Georgia Power do something.


PS: Claudia Collier pointed out this AJC article.