As we approach the floor vote on Senate Bill 31, we are starting to receive copies of e-mails from members of the Georgia House of Representatives. They are not only strikingly similar to each other, but to the same talking points that Georgia Power and their paid army of minions have used. This is as disappointing as it is unacceptable.
For lobbyists to post here using fake names from Southern Company IP addresses in order to obfuscate issues is expected. For our elected officials to respond to our concerns using GA Power prepared talking points, and telling those of us who have probably spent more time digging through the actual text of these bills that “this is a complex issue”, or worse, that all of the facts are not known, is arrogant, condescending, and rude.
No one here is arguing against the need for additional power generation. We understand this need, and support not only new plants, but new nuclear plants. To pretend that we are against the construction of these new reactors at Plant Votgle is disingenuous. We fully support their construction.
Our problems with this bill are simple, they are:
1) The methodology used to determine that the consumer “saves” money under this bill is based on faulty logic, and that the only way you can reach this conclusion is that if you assume the consumer has no opportunity cost on the funds they would pay to Georgia Power.(i.e., no interest they are currently paying to other creditors, nor interest income currently being received from their investments if they are debt free).
2) The bill grants Georgia Power the right to take approximately $1 Billion in advance profits before the plant generates a single kilowatt of electricity.
3) This bill circumvents some of the authority of the Georgia Public Service Commission, which is in place precisely so that “complex issues” can be decided by experts who understand them, and not in a political setting where complex issues can be obfuscated by sound bites of misdirection.
4) Large Commercial customers of Georgia Power are exempt from the rate increases under this bill. This truly emphasizes that our Republican leadership is no longer “pro-business”, but “pro-big business”. Individual consumers and small business will now be subsidizing the electric rates of the largest power users. The public didn’t appreciate this change under natural gas deregulation, and they will be equally unhappy when the “complex issue” is easily understood in higher rates to them, but not to the large companies with armies of lobbyists.
Many legislators are basing their support for the bill on a position paper written by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. We believe this conclusion to be flawed based on their omission of the opportunity cost mentioned above. Yet, SB 31 ignores the four conditions set by the GPPF on which they base their support:
1) Only Finance Costs should be included. This bill includes almost twice as much front loaded ROI, or “profit” in layman’s terms, as it does finance costs.
2) The Georgia PSC should be able to review and approve all finance costs. This bill adds a new category of “ROI” or profit that GA Power may charge years before it is earned, without the review of the PSC. And according to the PSC, “The bill removes the current flexibility to consider the circumstances of a particular case and mandates that the Commission use particular mechanisms even if the Commission finds that others might be more appropriate.”
3) The charges should be incorporated into the base rates of all customers. They are not. The largest customers will be exempt, and effectively subsidized by small businesses and individual consumers.
4) Annual Rate Increases should not exceed a reasonable, guaranteed rate.
Yes, Georgia Legislators, this is a complex issue. Yet when broken down into parts, it is fairly easy to understand. We understand the bill charges consumers today to save GA Power interest payments tomorrow. We understand that it takes money from consumers today so that Georgia Power can have profits that they have yet to earn. And we understand that not all consumers are equal under this bill, as the consumers who use the most power – and we’re sure not coincidentally, those also most likely to have lobbyists – are exempt from paying this tax like the rest of us.
This complex issue is easy to understand. Your vote will decide if you are on the side of consumers and small businesses, or if you are on the side of big businesses with powerful lobbyists. We can’t make it more simple than that.
Erick Erickson, Macon
Clayton Wagar, Alpharetta
Jason Pye, Covington
Chris Farris, Duluth
Buzz Brockway, Lawrenceville
Clint Murphy, Savannah
Andre Walker, College Park
John Konop, Canton
Ben Brandon, Rising Fawn
“Dark Knight Begins”, Lee County
Rick Day, Atlanta
Jon & Jenny Hodges
David McElroy “bowersville”, Lake Hartwell
Thomas Pruitt – Atlanta
Darrell Galloway, Hiram
Ronald Daniels, Rhine
Doug Deal, Macon
Skyler Akins, Rockmart
James ‘griftdrift’ Williams, Moultrie
Daniel N. Adams, Madison
Michael and Kellie Weeks, Gainesville
John Farster, Savannah
Jimmy Gilvin, Alpharetta
James G. Bryant, Rising Fawn
John N. Edmonson, Snellville
Lorie Mancuso, Atlanta
Brett Bittner, Smyrna
Trey O’Callaghan, Atlanta
Robbie Honerkamp, Tucker
Tiffany Dixon, Smyrna
Jenny Schumm, Lilburn
Peg Murray, Lawrenceville
Tommy Sandoval, Gainesville
Brent Winner – Hampton
Ritch McCutchen, Cordele
Tiffany Dixon, Smyrna
Bill West,. Atlanta
John Edmonson, Buford
Tyler Burgess, Ringgold