Rising power bill costs here to stay

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On Tuesday, Gov. Sonny Perdue signed into law legislation that will boost monthly bills for Georgia Power Co. customers. Now that it has become law, consumers are likely to have questions about how it will affect them.

Q: How much will my bill go up?

A: Georgia Power estimates the average residential customer, who pays about $100 per month today, would pay an extra $1.30 each month.

The charge will change, based on the pace of construction, financing rates charged to the company and the price of fuel used to generate power at existing plants. Based on the company's projected construction timeline, the monthly charge would rise by about $1.30 each of the six years the reactors are expected to be under construction, finally reaching $9 or so each month.

Q: If my bill is two or three times the average residential bill, will the construction charge also double or triple?

A: Yes.

Q: How much?

A: The initial charge will be about 1.3 percent of current monthly bills, according to Georgia Power's public statements to legislators and regulators. It considers its construction timetable a trade secret, making it exempt from public disclosure under the state's Open Records Act.

Publicly, company officials have said they expect the charge to increase yearly by an additional 1.3 percent. It expects construction to take about six years, which could bring the projected construction charge to 9 percent.

Q: Will commercial and industrial customers also pay this charge?

A: Commercial customers will pay the charge. Industrial customers can avoid the charge if they opt for "real-time pricing," which means they pay more for power used at peak periods and less at night and weekends, when demand is down.

That also means the electricity available to them can be restricted on peak-demand days, such as when air conditioners across the state are running nonstop.

Generally, factories are the only types of businesses able to switch to other fuel types on days when they don't have access to unlimited electrical power.

Q: When will my bill go up?

A: As soon as construction starts in earnest. Some preconstruction earth moving and erection of safety structures has already begun, but full construction must wait for approval by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The company hopes construction will begin in early 2011.

Q: Why do they need the money now?

A: It will cover some of the cost of construction and financing for two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Ga. Though the plant is owned by several utilities across the state, Georgia Power owns the biggest share. The other utilities have always had that right to charge customers for construction costs.

Q: When will my bill go down?

A: The charge will technically end when construction finishes, but as the reactors begin generating power, their costs will be included in the base rate. So the amount you pay won't change, only the way in which the company accounts for it.

When the construction is eventually paid off 60 years after operations begin, the cost will be subtracted from the base rate.

Q: What's to keep these construction charges from going higher?

A: The new state law permits Georgia Power to pass along these charges during construction, but it also gives the Georgia Public Service Commission the authority to review them to ensure they are legitimate. The company is required to pay for the commission to hire experts to monitor periodic construction reports.

Q: Is anyone required to give notice of any costs rising above the approved amounts?

A: Because the amount could change from month to month, depending on the level of ongoing construction at the time, the commission won't hold hearings before every change.

There is no limit on what can be charged as long as the commission deems the underlying construction expenses to be legitimate.


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RAWR
0
Points
RAWR 04/26/09 - 03:12 am
0
0
I dont understand why we have

I dont understand why we have to pay for something that Georgia Power wants to upgrade ...

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 04/26/09 - 03:12 am
0
0
The costs of prodigality will

The costs of prodigality will necessarily increase.

The Godfather
43
Points
The Godfather 04/26/09 - 06:02 am
0
0
Georgia public service comm.

Georgia public service comm. are crooks . they don't have the consumers best interest at hand. They have already proven that with the deregulation of the gas industry. WATCH AS OUR POWER BILL WILL GO THROUGH THE ROOF.

mad_max
0
Points
mad_max 04/26/09 - 07:39 am
0
0
I want to know why there is

I want to know why there is no requirement for the power generated by this plant to be sold to GA customers only. We should get all of the power from this nuclear plant and consequently we should be immune to any of the Obama "Cap and Trade" taxes that will raise our power bill another 50%. These crooks will sell the power we paid for on the grid and claim they are buying power from coal fired plants and we will be charged the Cap and Trade tax on top of the construction fees for the nuclear plant. Why did the commission not guarantee that we would get ALL of the power from the nuclear plant and that it WILL NOT be sold out of state on the grid? The GA Public Service Commission is bought and paid for by the utilitities. Another government entity that controls our wallets and most of us don't even know who they are or how they got there. Their approval of making us pay for a power plant IN ADVANCE is the most anti-consumer decision since the gas deregulation and I hope the GBI is checking their bank accounts and property holdings for the kickbacks and payoffs.

aaa
2
Points
aaa 04/26/09 - 07:45 am
0
0
This is not fair.

This is not fair.

aaa
2
Points
aaa 04/26/09 - 07:47 am
0
0
If each family in Georgia is

If each family in Georgia is being asked to foot the bill for construction, then shouldn't we all be made stockholders in the company? We are investing in a company's future. We should reap part of the profit in the future.

robaroo
858
Points
robaroo 04/26/09 - 08:25 am
0
0
It's so hard for companies to

It's so hard for companies to build new power plants these days. But, the demand for power increases every year. If this is what it costs to keep the lights on, I'm all for it as long as charges are applied equitably.

Grasshopper
7
Points
Grasshopper 04/26/09 - 08:57 am
0
0
Augusta cant complain, we

Augusta cant complain, we will get the benefits from the constructionat vogul, and the added operational employees. There have been allot of people who have profited for GA Power living right here in Augusta metro area.

Onthebeach
0
Points
Onthebeach 04/26/09 - 09:17 am
0
0
Milton is correct.....Look at

Milton is correct.....Look at what happened in Martin County Florida this weekend. Over 8000 people applied for 1100 Construction jobs to build a new solar plant for FPL. The jobs will last at least two years. These jobs will benefit not just the unemployed, but also Martin County that will reap a large new tax base. I know of serveral cities/counties that would welcome the construction benefits of a large project like Vogtle, Units 3 & 4.

2tired2argueanymore
1
Points
2tired2argueanymore 04/27/09 - 07:26 am
0
0
Sounds like a good business

Sounds like a good business to be in. We want to expand so we are going to charge everyone so we can. Its like McDonalds wanting to build a new restaurant and charging everyone in Augusta a fee to do so. And oh by the way, as long as the public service commission thinks the charges are OK they can go up as much as they want.

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