Georgia Power has asked the Georgia Public Service Commission for permission to increase its base rates approximately $615 million, or 8.2 percent of the company's retail rates, to recover the costs of investments in cleaner generation sources, power lines, smart grid technologies, environmental controls and energy efficiency programs to meet current and future customer demand.
If the request is approved, the typical residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month would see an increase of about 10.1 percent, or $10.88. For business customers, the average increase would range from about 7.7 percent to 10.3 percent.
Additional increases, if approved, would become effective in subsequent years through existing and newly proposed cost-recovery mechanisms outlined in the filing. The company currently estimates increases for new generation, environmental controls and demand-side management programs are expected to increase the typical residential customer bill per month by about $5.38 in 2012 and $1.42 in 2013, respectively. These estimates will be updated through future filings with the PSC.
As of December 2009, the company's rates were approximately 14 percent below the national average and 7 percent below the Southeast average. Even with this proposed increase, Georgia Power's rates should remain below the national average, and its customers will be paying lower base rates today than they were in 1991 on an inflation-adjusted basis.
Since the last base-rate case in 2007, Georgia Power has invested almost $5 billion:
- In reliability and smart grid - To ensure a stable and efficient grid, and reliable service for customers.
- In cleaner natural gas generation - To ensure adequate and cleaner energy when customers need it. Plant McDonough Units 4, 5 and 6 are scheduled to begin serving customers in January 2012, May 2012 and January 2013.
- For a cleaner environment - To continue to reduce emissions and meet federal and state environmental standards. By 2015, the company anticipates reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by 85 percent and sulfur dioxide emissions by 95 percent from 1990 levels, and achieving significant reductions in other emissions.
Georgia Power also is proposing changes to its current accounting order with the PSC that would:
- Replace large rate changes with smaller, periodic adjustments.
- Allow customers to benefit from cost controls and proactive management on a timelier basis.
- Allow customers to share in unexpected economic and/or weather impacts.
- Support a more timely process for review of both past and projected costs than the current lengthy and complex filings.
- Help maintain the financial stability of the company and keep financing costs low.
In addition, the company's plan features new energy-efficiency programs that will help customers control their energy use and save money. It also includes a new electric vehicle rate that encourages customers to charge at lower-cost, off-peak times and pay less for electricity.
The PSC will hold public hearings October through December. A final decision is expected Dec. 21, 2010, with new rates going into effect Jan. 1, 2011.