Sierra Club poll shows opposition to Ga. Power rate hike

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The Sierra Club’s Georgia chapter released poll results Wednesday that showed voter and consumer opposition to the rate increase Georgia Power has filed with the Public Service Commission.

“The poll shows that voters and customers overwhelmingly agree: we don’t want to pay to keep polluting and obsolete coal-fired power plants going,” said Colleen Kiernan, director of the Sierra Club’s Georgia chapter.

“Georgia Power customers know that there are cleaner, cheaper, safer sources of electricity, like wind and solar,” Kiernan contended.

The survey was conducted for the Sierra Club by Public Policy Polling (PPP), a North Carolina firm that frequently does polling for political candidates. PPP is generally considered a Democratic polling firm.

According to the poll, 67 percent of Georgia Power customers would deny the proposed rate increase while 69 percent of statewide voters would deny the increase.

The poll said 73 percent of those surveyed would not allow Georgia Power to charge customers for coal plant upgrades before they begin, which is part of the rate increase proposal.

The PSC will hear final comments Thursday on the rate increase proposal and is scheduled to vote Dec. 17 on the new rates, which would take effect Jan. 1 for Georgia Power customers.

In a compromise settlement worked out last month between Georgia Power and the PSC staff, the company’s original request for a $482 million rate increase for the 2014-16 period was cut back slightly to $467 million.

Georgia Power initially asked for an increase in its authorized return on equity (ROE) to the 11.5 percent level, but that was cut back to 10.95 percent in the settlement. The utility giant also dropped its request for a solar energy surcharge on consumers who buy solar panels from a non-approved supplier.

The impact on the typical residential customer’s monthly bill would be about $3 to $4 under the compromise agreement, where the original rate request would have boosted monthly bills by $7.84.

The Sierra Club and the Association for Fairness In Ratemaking (AFFIRM) have not approved the proposed settlement.

Other organizations that did sign it include the consumer organization Georgia Watch, the Georgia Solar Energy Industries Association, MARTA, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Resource Supply Management, the Georgia Association of Manufacturers and the Georgia Industrial Group.

© 2013 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Georgia Power , Georgia Watch , PSC , rate increase , Sierra Club