A summer without persistent sweltering temperatures, combined with sliding natural gas prices, means that customers of Georgia Power should see lower monthly bills starting in January.
The utility, a subsidiary of Southern Co., said Tuesday it plans to file a request to reduce the fuel rates it charges to produce electricity for Columbus residents and Georgians statewide.
Georgia Power will submit its “voluntary” filing Nov. 1 to the Georgia Public Service Commission, which will have 30 days to review it for approval. The PSC is the state agency that monitors electric and gas utilities for fluctuations in base and fuel rates.
While Georgia Power can profit from base rates, state law mandates that it cannot do so with fuel rates. The power company on Tuesday did not say how much it plans to cut customers’ bills starting Jan. 1.
But the current move follows a decrease in fuel rates in June that lowered the average residential bill by about $8 a month, or 6 percent. The overall amount cut from fuel operations at that time was $567 million.
“The continued drop in fuel costs is primarily driven by lower natural gas prices due to increased natural gas supplies,” Georgia Power said in its Tuesday news release. “Other contributing factors were lower demand for electricity, resulting from the milder than normal summer weather.”
Enjoy the lower power bills while you can. Electricity rates ebb and flow seasonally, with last year’s mild winter across much of the United States causing lower usage and subsequent declines in power bills.
But the U.S. Energy Information Administration already is projecting greater use of natural gas, heating oil and electricity during the coming winter because of forecasts that it will be colder than a year ago in most of the nation. The agency expects electric bills to rise 5 percent this winter, with natural gas — or propane — costs climbing 13 percent.
“The forecast for higher household expenditures primarily reflects a return to roughly normal winter temperatures east of the Rocky Mountains compared with last winter’s unusual warmth,” the agency said in an outlook released a week ago. “According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s most recent projection of heating degree days, the Northeast, Midwest and South will be about 2 percent warmer than the 30-year average (1971-2000), but still 20 percent to 27 percent colder than last winter, while the West is projected to be only about 1 percent colder than last winter.”