Experts Rip Into Georgia Power’s Proposed Fee Hike

Chris Carnevale | October 25, 2019 | Georgia, Utilities
Georgia Power’s mandatory fee hike proposal was sloppily calculated and is outrageously overly inflated — That’s the unanimous conclusion of experts who tore into Georgia Power’s proposed fee hike in testimony filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission last week. Separate experts, representing three different groups, closely examined Georgia Power’s proposal to hike residential customers’ monthly fee by 80% and each concluded that the proposed fee hike is based on inaccurate calculations that stick customers with much higher costs than are appropriate, and that the Public Service Commission should not allow Georgia Power’s proposal.

As SACE and partner groups have been pointing out, hitting customers with high fees like Georgia Power proposes to do would take away customers’ ability to control power bills, disproportionately hurt customers who use the least energy and are least able to afford the costly changes, and punish energy conservation and solar energy. You can see more here about why the fee hike is an awful idea and how you can help stand up to fight it.

Three separate submissions of testimony from the Public Service Commission Public Interest Advocacy Staff, Sierra Club, and Georgia Interfaith Power & Light/Southface/Vote Solar/Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) all pointed out that the method by which Georgia Power arrived at the amount of its proposed 80% hike in the residential monthly fee is faulty and should not be used for calculating customers’ monthly fee. All three submissions recommended a different calculation method, which would more accurately reflect real costs, and which would incidentally result in a much lower monthly fee than what Georgia Power proposed.

Specifically, the expert for SELC carefully reviewed Georgia Power’s case and determined that in fact the current $10/month fee that residential customers are charged to cover the costs of providing electric service to the customer is already too high as it is significantly higher than it actually costs in reality to provide service. He recommended that the Public Service Commission reduce the fee that Georgia Power makes its customers pay every month before they flip on a light switch to $9.46/month.

Similarly, the experts for the Sierra Club recommended that the fee be kept at its current level of $10/month. The experts for the Pubic Interest Advocacy Staff meanwhile also said that Georgia Power’s proposal is massively overly-inflated, but still thought that a lesser increase of $2 would be appropriate so that the monthly fee would be $12/month.

The expert testimonies also pointed out some helpful ways to contextualize Georgia Power’s proposal in relation to peer utilities around the nation. For example, one expert pointed out that since Georgia Power assesses additional percentage-based charges on the monthly fee, the $17.95 proposed monthly fee would actually be $23.69 per month, or about $284 per year, before customers even use any electricity. Based on a comprehensive evaluation of peer large utilities around the nation, this amount charged for just basic access to electrical service would be the third-highest fee in the nation!

He found that the final amount of Georgia Power’s proposed fee would be more than double the national average ($23.69 vs. $10.52) and that the amount of the proposed increase ($10.94 more per month) would be almost five times greater than the national average increase in recent years ($1.91 more per month) and more than twenty times greater than the national median increase ($0.50 more per month)! See the table below for illustration.

From Justin Barnes’ testimony on behalf of Southern Environmental Law Center, Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, Southface, and Vote Solar.

The expert testimonies also provided examples of how other states around the country have objected the flawed method by which Georgia Power is justifying the outrageous fee hike as well as how energy regulators around the nation have rejected big fee increases, like Georgia Power’s. The hike is not a done deal yet and cannot go into effect without first getting approval by the state’s elected energy regulators, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC). The expert testimonies have given a solid record with which the Georgia PSC should deny Georgia Power’s outrageous, anti-consumer fee hike.


If you are a customer concerned about Georgia Power’s proposed fee hike, please attend one of the upcoming events to share your thoughts with the Public Service Commission!

ATTEND THE KENNESAW TOWN HALL, OCT. 28 ATTEND THE ATLANTA TOWN HALL, OCT. 28 SPEAK UP AT THE PSC HEARING, NOV. 4 IN ATLANTA RALLY TO #FIGHTTHEHIKE, NOV. 4 IN ATLANTA ATTEND THE CARROLLTON TOWN HALL, NOV. 14

 

 

Chris Carnevale
Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Chris is SACE’s Coastal Climate and Energy Manager and South Carolina State Affairs Liaison. His work focuses on building a critical mass of support for…
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