A new round of hearings begins Monday on Georgia Power’s proposal to raise its rates. State regulators will hear from experts and advocates on the company’s request to charge residential customers about $10 more a month on their electric bills; businesses would see rates go up, too.
At a town hall he hosted in his church in late October, the Rev. Timothy McDonald of First Iconium Baptist Church in East Atlanta said he already hears from people about their power bills.
“The biggest request that most ministers get for help and assistance is for utility bills,” he said.
McDonald said he likes Georgia Power and likes Paul Bowers, the company’s CEO, but he doesn’t like the plan to raise rates.
“This request is emphatically wrong,” he said. “It puts too much pressure on the poorest of our citizens.”
Congregant Yvette Boulware, who attended the town hall, said she’d feel pressure.
“For those that are on fixed incomes or are lower bracket earners, I’m like, there is no way,” she said.
The company needs to raise rates, said Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft, to maintain its grid, to comply with coal ash cleanup rules and to replenish its storm restoration fund.
“We want to be able to continue to make the investments in our system so that we can continue to keep our system upgraded for reliable power, make sure we’re meeting those federal regulations, and also make sure we can respond effectively when storms come,” Kraft said.
In prefiled testimony, staff from the Public Service Commission said Georgia Power shouldn’t get as much increased revenue as it’s asking for. Others pushing back on Georgia Power’s proposal at the hearings this week include the Department of Defense, the city of Atlanta, and the Kroger Co.
“Of course, anybody knows, nobody wants a rate increase, period,” PSC chairman Lauren “Bubba” McDonald said.
WABE asked him if it’s possible his commission will say to Georgia Power, “We’re not giving you everything you’ve asked for?”
He replied: “You said it, I didn’t say it, but you’re probably right.”
The PSC will decide on Georgia Power’s rate case request next month.