Georgia Power files request to raise average residential bill $7.84 per month

Rate hike would go into effect Jan. 1; company says it needs money for future infrastructure growth

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comJune 28, 2013 

Columbus-area residents should prepare to pay more for the electricity they use if a Georgia Power request to raise rates more than 6 percent is approved by state regulators.

The Atlanta-based utility said Friday it has filed a request with the Georgia Public Service Commission to hike base rates starting Jan. 1. The utility said a “typical” residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours monthly would pay $7.84, or 6.7 percent more, each month.

Georgia Power said the $482 million it would collect from the rate increase over three years is needed to recover money it has already spent and will need in the future to prepare its infrastructure for future growth.

The company said the increase is “required in order to maintain high levels of reliability and superior customer service.” It also pointed out that its rates have consistently been lower than other power companies in the U.S., an average 13 percent less over the past quarter century.

“We will continue to invest what is required to deliver the world-class value our customers deserve and expect and to serve Georgia’s current and future energy needs,” Georgia Power President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Bowers said in a statement.

The Georgia PSC said the “alternative rate plan” offered by the utility would cover three years. The PSC also required the company to file a “traditional” rate request, which would mean a lower monthly bite out of customers’ wallets.

The traditional rate increase would raise the average power bill for those “typical” customers by $4.55 per month. The kicker in that option, however, is that Georgia Power would be allowed to come back at any time for another rate hike request, instead of having to wait three years in the alternative plan.

The Georgia PSC said it has scheduled public hearings on the proposed increases for Oct. 1, Nov. 5 and Nov. 25. It expects to make a decision on the matter Dec. 17, with any rate increase taking effect Jan. 1.

The PSC does not have to grant the rate increase and, after the hearings, it can decide to allow only portions of the requested hike if it deems the total amount unnecessary.

Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Co., serves 2.4 million customers, doing business in all but four of counties in the state. For more information, visit www.psc.state.ga.us, then look under docket number 36989.

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