Utility backers in the Georgia legislature tried scare tactics
to stop HB 657
(or anything else) from requiring more solar power from Georgia Power.
Still no solar tax, said citizens in
and now Atlanta.
The Georgia Power Co. rate hike proposal and suggested fees on solar
energy installation didn’t get a lot of support from residents who
attended a town meeting in Gainesville on Tuesday night.
The Georgia Public Service Commission is reviewing a $482 million
three-year rate increase request from the energy company that would
add about $7.84 to the average ratepayer’s monthly bill. The Georgia
Sierra Club and Georgia Watch has sponsored town meetings around the
state this month to let commissioners hear public input on the
request. Commissioners Tim Echols and Lauren “Bubba”
McDonald participated in the meeting at the Brenau Downtown Center.
Pursuing solar energy as state policy was also a hot topic at the
meeting, which was lightly attended. About 10 people spoke,
criticizing the proposed hike, the company’s proposed guaranteed
profit increase to 11.5 percent and Continue reading →
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
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.
Georgia Sierra Club’s Seth Gunning batted away Georgia Power’s proposed
solar tax, which would charge about $22 a month for many new home solar
GA PSC needs to call Georgia Power’s proposal out,
because it was a bad idea when Dominion Power did it in Virginia,
and it would be a worse idea here in sunny Georgia.
Besides, Austin Energy already established that the purported basis
for such a solar tax is nonsense: actually, utilities should be paying
more for home solar power because of the benefits they receive.
Company officials argue the tariff is necessary because most solar
users still require the power grid as a back-up when the sun isn’t
shining. As solar use spreads, the company stands to collect less
revenue from those customers. What doesn’t change is the cost to
maintain the grid. Georgia Power says non-solar customers shouldn’t
have to bear all the costs.
“We don’t want to contribute to the problem of shifting costs
so before we do that we very much prefer to get these tariffs right
so all customers benefit,” said Roberts.
PSC Chairman Chuck Eaton wondered if the tariff is about making up
for lost revenue, why not consider new fees for any number of energy
Georgia Power is raising rates
in January, despite its recent announcement that it would lower
rates because of lower fuel bills.
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?
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.
So, natural gas is important, but it’s not a panacea. Here’s why.
First, the reason prices have dropped so far is because of a new technology called fracking, which releases natural gas from so-called tight rock formations, such as shale gas. Fracking is the injection of chemicals underground, which have the effect of fracturing the rock deposits, thereby releasing the natural gas. There are environmental concerns around the chemicals associated with the fracking process. Those concerns have to be resolved.
Those concerns range from polluted groundwater to earthquakes. It’s great that SO is turning away from coal. I don’t think it’s so great to trade dirty air from coal for dirty water and earthquakes from fracking.
Secondly, many of these shale gas deposits are in places where there is no sufficient pipeline infrastructure necessary to move the gas to the places it’s needed to generate the electricity. Pipelines will have to be built. It will take time. We need to resolve that issue, too.
At Southern Company’s (SO) shareholder meeting, I enumerated some examples in the U.S., Japan, and Germany of nuclear gone bad, and pointed out Japan, Germany, and even Bulgaria had already or were getting out of nuclear, while Southern Company and Georgia continued to bet the farm on nuclear, and I asked what was SO’s exit strategy for when that bad bet goes bad? SO CEO Thomas A. Fanning said they had learned everything there was to learn from Fukushima, and besides Plant Vogtle is 100 miles inland where there are no earthquakes. He didn’t mention the same description applies to Chernobyl. He did say SO planned to make the U.S. nuclear industry the best in the world.
You kept using big bets and then bet the farm. Very interesting terminology.
Regarding operations credibility, a year ago Vogtle Unit 1 shut down 2 days after the NRC gave Vogtle a clean bill of health. But the SO CEO says it’s all better now.
Here’s the video, followed by links to sources for the points I made:
Exit strategy for when this big nuclear bet goes bad? –John S. Quarterman Shareholder Meeting, Southern Company (SO), Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia, 23 May 2012. Video by John S. Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).
Here are the main points I was reading from, with links: