Georgia Power officials signed off late Wednesday on an agreement that would lower the utility’s rate hike request now before the state Public Service Commission (PSC) by nearly 40%.
The company, the PSC’s Public Interest Advocacy Staff, and intervenors in the rate case agreed on a rate hike that would raise $1.8 billion from Georgia Power customers during the next three years. The proposal will be presented to the PSC’s Energy Committee on Thursday.
Unlike the original proposal the utility submitted to the commission in June, the new agreement would not front-load the rate increase. Instead, it would lower the impact on the average residential customer during the first year to $3.60 per month, down from the original request of $14.90.
That 2.6% increase in customer bills, effective Jan. 1, would jump to 4.5% in both the second and third years.
Georgia Power executives testified during recent hearings before the PSC that front-loading the rate hike would save money in the long run. But consumer and environmental advocates objected to such a steep increase at the onset of the three-year period.
“We believe this stipulated agreement takes a balanced approach that not only asks the Georgia Public Service Commission to set rates at a level that support the essential, critical investments needed to meet our state’s evolving energy needs but also recognizes affordability needs for customers,” the utility wrote in a prepared statement.
Opponents of the original rate hike request also raised concerns during the hearings that the proposed increase in base rates represents only a portion of the increases Georgia Power is expected to request during the next couple of years.
The utility also plans to submit a proposal to the PSC in February to recover the costs of higher fuel prices. After that, the commission will be asked to approve two rate hikes to cover the costs of bringing into service the two long-awaited new nuclear reactors being built at Plant Vogtle.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.