Georgia Power is looking for funding for grid improvements, storm restoration and environmental programs.
The utility recently filed a request with the Georgia Public Service Commission to increase customer rates by approximately 7% in 2020 so that it could continue making investments in Georgia's energy future. In the filing, the company highlighted nearly US$18 billion in recent and future investments to improve the reliability and resiliency of the state's electrical system and comply with federal regulations.
The company also requested that its storm restoration fund be rebuild following more than 50 severe weather events in recent years, including historic storms such as Hurricanes Michael, Irma, and Matthew, and Ice Storm Pax, that have impacted the network.
The filing also detailed costs of the company's environmental compliance programs, including efforts to help protect air and water quality. Additionally, the company is seeking to extend and expand its current suite of rate plans and enhance its payment options, including continuing to offer the low-income senior-citizen discount, adding a Pay-by-Day rate plan, and eliminating certain fees.
As outlined in the filing, a typical residential customer using 1000 KWh per month would see an increase of US$9.78 in monthly bill. A final decision by the public service commission is expected in December.
According to the company, for nearly 30 years, its rates have increased less than the rate of inflation and customers pay less today, and will pay less after the requested increase, than they paid in 1990 on an inflation-adjusted basis. Georgia Power's prices are 16% below the national average and the company has not had a rate case filing in the past six years.
Georgia Power's investments include:
Infrastructure – Since 2013, Georgia Power has invested more than US$4.1 billion in expanding transmission and distribution infrastructure, strengthening the reliability and resiliency of the electric grid, and plans to invest an additional US$1.3 billion in a grid investment plan over the next three years. The company has worked to replace aging transmission assets and deploy automation technologies across the grid to reduce outage time. A few examples of this investment include:
- Rebuilt an 8-mile transmission line from Plant McDonough through downtown Atlanta that is critical to the operations of customers such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Piedmont Hospital, and the Atlanta Water Department.
- Invested in Self-Healing Distribution Networks, which minimize the number of customers impacted by outages and reduce restoration times with automated restoration.
Future investments through the company's Grid Investment Plan include rebuilding 380 substations, 1000 miles of wire and 800 distribution feeders, commonly referred to as circuits, to continue strengthening transmission and distribution infrastructure.
Storm restoration – Georgia Power is seeking to rebuild its storm restoration fund after more than 50 severe weather events, including multiple historic storms, impacted the company's network and more than 1.5 million customers over the past six years. These storms not only depleted the storm restoration fund but also created an additional US$450 million in restoration costs not currently covered in rates. The most significant included Hurricane Michael (2018), Hurricane Irma (2017), Hurricane Matthew (2016) and Ice Storm Pax (2014).
Environmental programs – Since 2013, Georgia Power has invested more than US$2 billion in environmental compliance programs to meet state and federal environmental requirements.
- The company has installed environmental controls and made updates necessary to comply with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule; the Clean Water Act (CWA); CWA's 1982 Steam Electric Power Plant Effluent Limitations Guidelines; the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; and Georgia Rules for Solid Waste Management, which includes the State Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) Rule.
- Georgia Power is in the process of closing its 29 ash ponds across the state. The company is completely removing the ash from 19 ponds located adjacent to lakes or rivers and is closing the remaining 10 ponds using advanced engineering methods and closure technologies to help ensure water quality is protected.
Rate Plans and Options
Georgia Power offers a suite of rate plans and payment options to fit customers' budgets and lifestyles. The company is seeking to continue and expand its options for customers, including:
- Continuing to offer the low-income senior-citizen discount: Currently, customers over the age of 65 who meet the income requirements for eligibility can receive up to US$24 a month off their bill.
- Eliminating fees associated with authorized payment locations and credit and debit card payments.
- Adding a Pay-by-Day rate plan giving residential customers a seventh rate option and more control over their energy costs. Through this rate plan, customers can prepay money into their account and the same flat charge would be deducted daily from their account balance throughout the year.
- Expanding its FlatBill rate plan, which offers a 12-month fixed contract price, making it available to customers earlier by eliminating the one-year waiting period for pre-existing homes.
The company currently offers six residential rate plans.