If Georgia Power Co. has its way, its customers will face a staggering increase in rates of 39 percent over three years, according to expert James T. Selecky, who provided testimony on behalf of a diverse group of customer interests that included AARP, The Commercial Group, Georgia Watch, MARTA and Resource Supply Management.
Testifying before the Georgia Public Service Commission in Atlanta, Selecky showed that the utility’s current requests, combined with increases already approved this year, will raise a typical residential customer’s bill by $281.24 each year through 2013.1 That figure does not even include the 2010 fuel rate increase or any future fuel rate increases between 2010 and 2013.
“This increase would only make worse the economic pains so many Georgia families are facing,” said Will Phillips, associate state director of advocacy for AARP Georgia. “We echo the sentiments of the countless Georgia consumers who’ve been saying loud and clear for months that now that this is the wrong time for such a massive increase.”
The figures calculate the combined effect of base rate increases requested by Georgia Power, as well as a variety of new proposed surcharges, plus the early payments that have been approved for a nuclear power plant expansion still under way. The total charges have now been consolidated into one rate case before the PSC, and the ultimate decision could reach deep into the pockets of families and businesses, impeding overall economic growth in Georgia.
Selecky also recommended that the utility’s proposed profit margin should be reduced to 10.25 percent. This is in sharp contrast to the increase to 11.95 percent being sought by Georgia Power, along with its request to earn excess profit up to 12.95%. The total amount of money at stake on the issue of utility profit alone is well over $1 billion over the next three years.2 The excess part of the proposed rate band itself could cost Georgia consumers $318 million, or $137 per customer.
“These numbers are staggering, and Georgia Power customers are simply not prepared to absorb this type of blow,” Phillips said. “Beyond that, these rate requests need thorough scrutiny on a regular basis.”
In addition to its mammoth request, Georgia Power is asking for a new review process that would make future rate increases nearly automatic, with scant scrutiny going forward.