Georgia Power may raise rates

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ATLANTA - Georgia Power customers would see their monthly electric bills increase an average of $6.67, or 7 percent, next year under a request the company filed with state utility regulators Friday.

If approved by the Public Service Commission, the higher base rates would take effect in January.

Citing future spending on environmental controls at its coal plants, the company also offered a three-year plan that would result in customers paying $10.29 more than they do now by 2010.

Customers just saw their bills go up in March, on average $5 a month, because of rising prices for the fuel Georgia Power uses to generate electricity. The past three years have seen similar boosts because of fuel costs. But this would be the first increase in customers' base rates since 2005.

Base rates pay for the utility to produce electricity, run power lines, maintain transmission facilities and other business expenses.

The plan would give an extra $406 million next year to the company and begin paying for a record-setting spending plan for infrastructure to increase the amount of electricity it generates while addressing stricter environmental regulations.

"It's the largest investment we've had ever in a three-year period," Georgia Power spokesman John Sell said, pointing to the $5.5 billion the company expects to spend.

Mr. Sell said not only has the company seen its customer pool continue to grow in recent years, but also individual households are consuming more electricity than they used to.

Residential customers now use 15 percent more power on average than they did a decade ago, according to the company.

"Ten years ago, how many people had three air conditioners?" Mr. Sell asked. "Now they close off their basement and put in an air conditioner. There's electronic gadgets, plasma TVs."

Georgia Power also is planning to spend $1.3 billion more to install equipment at some of its coal plants to cut down on harmful emissions. The upgrades are being required under federal air quality mandates and a recent state order to reduce mercury levels.

The commission will evaluate Georgia Power's entire request in the coming months and likely will hear extensive arguments from customer groups about why the proposed increase should be reduced.

When Georgia Power submitted rate increases in 1998 and 2001, the commission lowered the rates. The company claims the reductions have kept base rates at roughly the same level they were in 1991, when adjusted for inflation. Hearings before the commission are expected to be in October and November, with a final decision in December.

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (678) 977-4601 or vicky.eckenrode@morris.com.

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cinhin
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cinhin 06/30/07 - 04:05 am
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Give me a windmill and I'll

Give me a windmill and I'll make my own!

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 06/30/07 - 06:09 am
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cinhin, get your own

cinhin, get your own windmill! Enviromental restrictions will always show up as increased rates. The convience of electricity will get more expensive every year. The great part about living in this country is that we get to choose to use or not use the provided utilities.

wildcountrygirl37
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wildcountrygirl37 06/30/07 - 06:20 pm
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Just thank goodness you don't

Just thank goodness you don't have Aiken electric they are high every month.

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