Georgia Public Service Commission Advances Fossil Fuels, Fails to Protect Ratepayers

Approval of ill-conceived compromise advances new fossil gas resources and sets customers up to pay the price of rising fuel costs

April 16, 2024
Contact: Amy Rawe, SACE, 865-235-1448, [email protected]

Atlanta, GA. – Today, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) voted to approve the request by Georgia Power to amend its 2022 resource plan and build new fossil gas and oil generators to increase energy capacity.

Today’s decision follows a settlement reached March 27 between the Georgia PSC staff and Georgia Power that did little to protect ratepayers and even less to advance clean energy like solar and wind, even removing a token amount of new solar (200 MW) that Georgia Power had initially proposed. That settlement was a perplexing 11th-hour “Stipulation” filed by the Public Interest Advocacy (PIA) Staff of the Georgia PSC immediately prior to the final hearing for Georgia Power’s “October surprise” IRP Update. Today, the Commissioners approved the PIA staff’s recommendation 4-1, with Commissioner McDonald voting “present.” And while Commissioner McDonald made a motion to defer certification of the three proposed fossil gas combustion turbines (CTs) at Plant Yates, the motion failed 1-4.

Bryan Jacob, Solar Program Director at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, issued the following statement following today’s ruling:

Today’s decision — particularly the approval of three new fossil gas combustion turbines at Plant Yates — will make Georgia Power even MORE reliant on fossil gas. So next time gas prices spike, Georgia Power customers will be even MORE exposed to that price volatility.
Less than a year ago, we concluded a major fuel cost proceeding where the Commission saddled the typical Georgia Power residential customer with a $15.90 per month increase on their bills. That was a result of an overreliance on fossil gas resources when the price spiked in 2022.
Georgia Power customers’ bills have gone up four times since the beginning of last year — with two more increases already approved for the next eight months. But that fuel cost adjustment was the largest increase of them all.
Fossil gas prices may be low now, and that may have lulled the Staff and/or Commission into a state of complacency. But rest assured, fossil gas prices are volatile and they WILL go up again.
The Commission has heard from multiple witnesses about the “moral hazard” that this represents. That term applies when the entity making a decision bears none of the risk from the outcome of that decision. Our current system in Georgia is for fuel costs to be 100% passed through to customers. So if the Georgia Power portfolio becomes more over-reliant on gas resources and then the price of gas increases it doesn’t affect them — it affects their customers.
SACE is disappointed in Georgia Power for circumventing the ordinary competitive procurement process, in the Public Interest Advocacy Staff for abandoning its own expert witness testimony and recommendations, and in the Public Service Commission itself for approving the ill-conceived compromise complete with new fossil gas resources.”


About the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
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