In case you noticed an increase in your power bill in January from Georgia Power Company, the increase is in part due to a rate increase proposed by the company and then approved by the elected members of the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) last month. On December 21, 2010 the PSC approved one of the largest rate hikes in Georgia Power’s history.
Four out of the five elected commissioners voted to approve the increase. The lone vote against the measure came from outgoing commissioner Robert “Bobby” Baker.
Included in this increase is a surcharge that will assist in the construction of two new reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro. Money from the increase will also be used to upgrade infrastructure, put in new power lines, build a new natural gas plant near metro-Atlanta and also offset environmental controls. The utility is expected to collect approximately $2.1 billion over the next three years through the new rate hike.
Baker cites that the decision will have the customer paying too much and the company making hefty profits.
“The earnings band is far too generous,” says Baker. “The earnings level is actually 12.25 percent for the company. They get to keep all their earnings up to that point and only after they exceed that 12.25 percent would there be any kind of sharing between rate payers and the company.”
Baker also stated that this is the biggest jump he’s seen in the utility’s electricity rates in two decades.
Critics to the PSC’s decision, including Georgia Watch and AARP Georgia, have said that the commission is allowing Georgia Power to profit too much during one of the worst economic downturns in the country’s history compared to other utilities across the nation. At this point one of the few options that consumers across the state have is to conserve energy to make up the difference.
The typical rate of increase for residential customers has been estimated to be around $10.00 per month and is expected to increase by another $4.00 by 2013.
By the way in case you didn’t know...the mission of the Georgia Public Service Commission is to exercise its authority and influence to ensure that consumers receive safe, reliable and reasonably priced telecommunications, transportation, electric and natural gas services from financially viable and technically competent companies.
It's amazing that a company as large as Southern Company could not be more responsible with its revenues. With their billions of dollars of yearly gross, it seems that they could be better stewards and do like everyone else; save for the future and spend accordingly. I guess an utility has a special place in government protection. They yell help and we the people are left to support a free enterprise expansion. How much more will our rates increase when Vogle 3&4 go online? I'm sure they will find a reason to charge us for that too.