Georgia Power Proposes Rate Increases, Citing Storm Recovery And Environmental Costs

The proposed increase for 2020 would increase customer rates by approximately 7%, Georgia Power said in an announcement.

Pixabay Images

Updated Monday at 5:11 p.m.

Georgia Power wants to raise rates for electricity by 7 percent starting next year.

According to the company, typical residential power bills would go up by about $10 a month. For businesses, depending on what pricing plan they use, some base charges could double. The rate increases would total about $2.2 billion over three years.

This is the first time the company has been able to ask for a rate increase in six years, and Georgia Power says its prices are below the national average.

“Our current base rates are no longer sufficient to allow the company to recover costs necessary to providing safe, reliable electric service to our customers,” Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers said in written testimony submitted to state regulators.

“We fully recognize that we are asking our customers to pay more for electricity, which is an essential service, and realize this can place a burden on our customers, especially those who are already financially challenged.”

Georgia Power cited infrastructure investments, storm recovery and environmental clean-up and regulations as major costs.

In addition to base charges, residential customers would see some tariffs on their bills go up, though the nuclear construction cost recovery, or NCCR, tariff, which goes towards construction at Plant Vogtle, would not change.

“The scale of the proposed rate increase is significant, and we’re worried in particular about what this may mean not just for all customers, but particularly for low-income customers,” Kurt Ebersbach, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, said.

Georgia Public Service Commission chairman Bubba McDonald said Georgia Power’s request is a big increase, and it has a ways to go before being finalized.

“There’s just a lot of legwork that’s got to be done before we can say, ‘Yes this is good, this is bad, or it’s acceptable,’” he said. “Lot of questions to be asked; lot of questions to be answered.”

The final decision on the rates will be made in December.

The last time Georgia Power raised its rates was in 2013. The company requested a $1.4 billion increase and regulators approved $870 million. In 2010, Georgia Power asked for a $2.4 billion increase and got $1.5 billion.

Meanwhile, another Georgia Power decision from the PSC is expected later this month. The company’s long-range energy plan laying out how much electricity it will need and how it plans to generate it over the next 20 years will be finalized by regulators mid-July.

Under a proposed agreement between Public Service Commission staff and Georgia Power on the plan, the company would close a coal-fired power plant and an additional coal unit at a separate plant, retire three dams and add 1650 megawatts of renewable energy.

Emma Hurt contributed to this story.