Diverse coalition fights Georgia Power request

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ATLANTA --- An unusual coalition of businesses and consumer groups has formed to fight Georgia Power Co.'s request to boost its rates and profits.

In written testimony filed Friday, an expert hired by the coalition said the requested profit boost alone would add $1 billion over the next three years and unnecessarily jack up the average homeowner's bill by $137 over that period.

The coalition includes some of the state's largest companies and Georgia Watch, a consumer-advocacy organization. Also in the coalition are the retiree organization AARP and the Atlanta transit agency MARTA. Observers don't recall any other rate case before the Public Service Commission drawing together as many or as diverse a group.

Georgia Power wants to increase base rates by $1.1 billion, phased in over the next three years. It says the increase is needed to pay for pollution-control equipment and expansion to meet its growing demand.

The request also asks the commission to raise the company's target profit from a 10.25 percent return on equity to 11.95 percent.

The coalition fighting the request filed written testimony by James T. Selecky, a managing partner of the Missouri-based energy consulting firm Brubaker & Associates. He said Georgia Power's investors shouldn't expect a higher profit because utilities in neighboring states aren't getting one, and their money is less at risk.

"Altogether then, ratepayers face the unhappy prospect of paying well over $1 billion in unreasonable (return on equity) revenue during the period," he said.

The commission has weeks of written and oral testimony to receive before it votes on the request in December.

Next week, it will vote on a separate request by Atlanta Gas Light Co. to increase its base rates by $48 million, scaled back from $54 million after the commission held a series of public hearings across the state on both rate-hike requests.


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