AARP fights Georgia Power rate increase

Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 8:02 AM
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 4:58 PM
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ATLANTA -- Georgia Power agreed last month to settle for a smaller rate increase than it had wanted, an agreement that won endorsement by nearly a dozen consumer, environmental and business advocacy groups, but one organization is fighting it.

The retiree-advocacy AARP is airing radio and online commercials and pushing a petition to urge the five members of the Public Service Commission to nix the agreement negotiated by its public-interest staff that slices the rate hike almost in half. Monday, the 1-million-member group reported collecting almost 3,000 signatures.

Its advertisement on WSB-AM in Atlanta points people to a website action.aarp.org/GAutilities where they can voice their opposition to the rate hike still part of the agreement as well as the reduced profit target. Georgia Power is accepting a reduction from 11.15 percent to 10.95, but the ad says that’s higher than the national average for other regulated monopoly utilities.

“In these tough economic times, Georgia families deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets – by paying Georgia Power what’s fair and reasonable, and not a dime more,” said AARP spokesman Ed Van Herik.

He acknowledged that attractive profits encourage investors to put their money in Georgia Power to fund expansion rather than ratepayers having to foot all of it. The group wants the target dropped further to 10 percent.

“Fair and reasonable profit margins are good for utilities – and good for their customers. Under the proposed agreement, Georgia Power will still earn some of the highest allowed profits in the nation,” he said.

Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft said its customers benefit from that profit margin.

“To cut return to shareholders further could cause the very low interest rates we pay to rise, which would end up costing customers more, so we believe the balance reached in the settlement agreement continues to give us the flexibility to manage the business by taking care of our customers and meeting shareholder expectations,” he said.

The settlement also increases the discount low-income seniors get from $6 per month to $10.

Company executives testified that about half of the remaining rate increase is needed to pay for meeting tougher environmental regulations. AARP, though, didn’t offer a response when asked how those costs should be met if rates aren’t raised.

In the last seven rate cases since 1995, all have been worked out in an agreement between the company and the commission staff, and the resulting rates average 13 percent below the national average.

Georgia Power just finished a radio-ad campaign of its own in which it says “while our rates may change, we’re working hard to keep them well below the national average.” But none of the cost of the ad was billed to customers.

The commission votes Dec. 17 on the rate request. While most rate cases are based on agreements the staff has negotiated with the company, it’s also common for commissioners to make last-minute changes.

Follow Walter Jones on Twitter @MorrisNews and Facebook or contact him at walter.jones@morris.com and (404) 589-8424.

Comments (14) Add comment
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Riverman1
84959
Points
Riverman1 12/03/13 - 09:20 am
5
2
What Group Is Next?

So part of the population can get a discount if they agree to support rate hikes? What group is next? Unions will be demanding discounts for their members if things keep going this way.

Marinerman1
4947
Points
Marinerman1 12/03/13 - 09:43 am
9
5
AARP Is NOT Your Father's Oldsmobile

AARP is a for the most part, a bunch of people who say they are supporting seniors, and then they kiss the fanny of president Obama on Obamacare. I have let my membership expire years ago, and tear up all of the "we want you back" letters I get. If they would get the president to soften some of the regulations from the EPA, then we could talk.

itsanotherday1
43845
Points
itsanotherday1 12/03/13 - 10:30 am
8
3
I wouldn't throw water on

I wouldn't throw water on AARP if it was on fire. Not a member, never have been, never will be.

griff6035
4042
Points
griff6035 12/03/13 - 10:42 am
4
1
AMAC ( The Association of Mature American Citizens)

An alternative to AARP, check it out.

JRC2024
9085
Points
JRC2024 12/03/13 - 10:57 am
3
0
I only have AARP for their

I only have AARP for their connection to Part D Medicare and because I get a big discount at the movies for a coke and popcorn.

bdouglas
5139
Points
bdouglas 12/03/13 - 11:01 am
11
0
What a misleading headline...

What a misleading headline... They're not fighting a rate decrease at all! They're fighting too much of an increase.

redfish
691
Points
redfish 12/03/13 - 11:35 am
6
2
AARP is a socialist obama loving group...

AARP has supported obama and his policies since day one. I would never join that group and anything they support, I am against and vice versa.

nocnoc
43472
Points
nocnoc 12/03/13 - 12:29 pm
5
0
AARP Obama issues aside

I agree with bdouglas on this one.

THE HEADLINE IS DECEPTIVE

AARP IS SAYING
THE RATE INCREASE
IS TOO MUCH

It needs to be even lower and in line with other utility rate
increases.

A LITTLE HISTORY
Just a few months ago many of us were rabid about the over the top rate increase demanded by Southern Company.

We pretty much agreed the increase, to cover the Nukes, was a ripoff, because so little of the generated power was slated to be use in GA.

Forget for a second it is AARP saying this,
and remember we said this ourselves

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
8375
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 12/03/13 - 12:42 pm
4
0
A few facts to settle your heartburn!

Yes a lot of the new Nuclear Generation will be sold to utilities out of state. They pay a higher rate for it than you do.. That helps to keep the rates down here.
Second- With Obama's EPA regs. they are having to close down coal plants because the cost of "Clean Coal" snicker is too expensive. The scrubber systems cost 5 times what the plants cost.
That being said, eventually all nuclear generation will be used in the Southeast.
Now, before someones starts touting natural gas, remember what happens to the price of products when demand goes up!!
I don't know about you but AARP is what I do when I hear this organizations name. Yes, I qualify, but I don't support them or subscribe to them, free popcorn or not!!

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
8375
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 12/03/13 - 12:44 pm
2
1
Part D Medicare

I hope you realize that AARP profits from this also, along with every other "Seniors" product they endorse.

teaparty
11313
Points
teaparty 12/03/13 - 04:25 pm
3
0
AARP CEO A. Barry Rand
Unpublished

AARP CEO A. Barry Rand contributed $8,900 to Obama's 08 campaign. I throw anything I receive in the mail from AARP in trash.

JRC2024
9085
Points
JRC2024 12/03/13 - 07:57 pm
1
0
cold beer, the only thing I

cold beer, the only thing I care about with AARP. All other goes in the trash. Can't do much with 16.00

SCEagle Eye
917
Points
SCEagle Eye 12/03/13 - 08:14 pm
2
0
nuclear electricty out of state

It appears that the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG), a partner in the construction of the new reactors at Vogtle, intends to sell 200 MW of its share to JEA in Florida. That amount is almost 10% of the electricity produced by two units. Georgia Power and other partners should reveal if they intend to sell power out of state. Where is information about impacts of those sales to ratepayers of MEAG, GA Power and other partners?

Thanks to AARP for fighting a huge rate hike being pursued under rules rammed down ratepayers throats by big government which continues to allow a semi-regulated monopoly to set energy policy for the entire state.

happychimer
18030
Points
happychimer 12/03/13 - 09:23 pm
0
4
I have been an AARP member

I have been an AARP member since 2001. I love the discounts and information, and games. I like AARP.

Sharon F
2
Points
Sharon F 12/05/13 - 12:00 pm
0
0
Headline was misleading by the paper

Simple questions:

1. What happens to my bill come January 01 if this passes?
2. Does Georgia Power use the money from the rate increase to advertise for a monopoly?
3. Why not reduce their advertising budget and not increase my bill?
4. Do I have a choice in providers?
5. Why do I always hear "Let's get Government out of Business" instead of getting "Business out of Government"
6. If Georgia Power has the cheapest rate why was my bill for the same size house in Alabama cheaper? (Ga Power surcharges make up about 25% of my bill)
7. Is Georgia Power going to increase my Nuclear Cost Recovery Fee (Plant Vogtle) because they are over budget and past due

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