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Georgia Power seeks latest rate hike increase 

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Hold onto your ‘purses and wallets’ rate payers because you are about to be taken on another bumpy ride in 2023 after utility giant Georgia Power announced that it would seek yet another rate hike from customers across the state.

This newest request for a rate increase comes just months after Georgia Power was approved for a major rate increase request thanks to the Public Service Commission (PSC), which is tasked with oversight of our utilities. This recent rate increase approved by the PSC is just now starting to appear on the electrical bills of many Georgians.

Customers are being hit with a double punch, which most say is unfair. With the country caught in an inflation grip, families are struggling with everyday issues such as how to keep a roof over their heads and how to feed their children. Seniors and Veterans are also struggling with whether to pay for much needed medicine and other medical needs or give the few dollars they have to Georgia Power.

Georgia Power, which enjoys a notorious reputation for passing on their costs for doing business to Georgia customers, wants the PSC to put more on the backs of ratepayers with a new tab that many say could exceed $2.1 billion. Georgia Power claims the newest request is to cover past fuel expenses and expected future ones. Others say that is the same excuse, just a different day.

With this newest rate increase request, Georgia Power will collect an even bigger sum from struggling ratepayers to cover the cost of the coal, gas and nuclear fuel used in its power plants. If approved by the PSC, customers will see their bills go up another $17 to $23 per month starting June 1, on top of the recent increase that has been thrust upon them by the PSC regulators who are incapable of saying no to Georgia Power.

Customers we spoke to say it is like a guillotine pressing on the necks of Georgians with many asking who is protecting the consumers. They point to this newest request coming on the heels of the major hike the PSC approved in the fall of 2022 for Georgia Power, which allows Georgia Power to collect $1.8 billion more from its customers through higher rates over the next three years. At the time, the company claimed the increase was needed to pay for transmission upgrades and to allow it to maintain reliable service.

Before its recent approval by the PSC and before Georgia Power’s latest rate increase took effect Jan. 1, Georgia has the disreputable title of the most expensive utilities rates in the country. According to the most recent (2021) federal data available, monthly electricity bills for Georgians were already high – with the average residential electricity bill coming in at $134.11. This is the 7th highest in the country and about $13 above the national average.

Rate payers should buckle in as eEven more rate hikes could follow this year to pay for the cost overruns and delays associated with two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle, which are more than five years behind schedule.Georgia Power could ask the PSC to begin reviewing whether it can collect “prudently” incurred costs from customers as early as the summer.

Critics of the proposed Georgia Power rate hike say customers could be on the hook for an even larger sum of $2.6 billion, if fuel prices bounce back to near their pandemic-era highs and have also complained about the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) which continuously falls down on the job.

The five-member elected body that comprises the PSC regulates the utility and will have the final say on whether to approve or tweak the company’s ask. Many point to the history of the PSC when it comes to rate hike increases from Georgia Power and they say it is just a matter of when they will approve it, not if.

 When asked about this latest increase request, a PSC spokesman said the commissioners would not comment on the company’s fuel case until the proceedings are complete. So much for checks and balances.

The hearings on Georgia Power’s request are set to begin May 2, and the commission will issue a final decision in the case on May 16.

Unlike Georgians, Georgia Power is not hurting for money as reflected in an earnings call last month. Parent company Southern Co. reported profits last year reached $3.5 billion, up from $2.4 billion in 2021.

Unfortunately, the bumpy ride will continue for ratepayers until the PSC figures out how to say NO to Georgia Power or until Georgians wise up and elect new leadership for the PSC who can say no. 

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