SB31: The aftermath.

As readers of this blog are well aware, SB31 passed but the debate rages on. Several of our Front Page Posters have engaged in a discussion with the folks at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. My problem with GPPF on this issue is despite the fact they are a 501c3 organization and as such do not formally endorse specific legislation, their article arguing for allowing Georgia Power to collect funds in advance of construction came down clearly on the side of SB31 (as Jason pointed out). They ignored contrary evidence on the bill, even when specifically asked about it, then sent out an email celebrating February 26 as a red letter day for the Legislature and the GPPF.

Every Front Page Poster’s comments have been that we respect the GPPF, yet disagree with them on this issue. We continue to seek clarification as to how SB31 was sound public policy based on the criteria set forth by the Foundation. Sadly that issue remains unresolved. While we’re not members of a think tank, we do seek and advocate for sound public policy in our own individual ways.

It’s no fun at all to be on the opposite side of an issue with people you respect. Many of my favorite Senators and Representatives voted for SB31. The GPPF, staffed with people I greatly admire and whose reading materials greatly impact my thinking on issues, is on the other side of the fence. That being said I remain convinced we were right and they were wrong. Nevertheless, for the sake of our State I hope it works out like we’ve been promised it will.

Erick can correct me if I’m wrong, but Peach Pundit was not designed to be a place for activism. We blog about Georgia politics and our Front Page Posters come from several different places on the political spectrum. Contrary to what Minority Leader Porter said on Thursday, Peach Pundit is not a “Republican” blog. What made SB31 unique was that most, if not all of Peach Pundit’s Front Page Posters agreed that this bill was a bad one. That won’t happen very often and thus we won’t often see the level of activism displayed over the past few weeks.

Where do we go from here? I for one am not interested it seeking retribution on those who voted for SB31. Influence comes through relationship, not threats. I think a major reason so many conservative Legislators voted for the bill was that they trust their colleagues. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment: On the one hand you have a colleague you know and respect telling you this is a good bill and on the other hand you have Clark Howard and Peach Pundit telling you it’s not. Who would you listen too? The person you have a relationship with.

If we as individuals want to impact legislation, we must build relationships with our Legislators. We must as individuals build credibility with those around us. As we individually do those things our influence will grow and legislation will be impacted. Doing that will advance good public policy and strengthen our political process.


  1. IndyInjun says:

    I hope it works out like we’ve been promised it will.

    Just how many times has this happened?

    It ranks only slightly behind the virgin birth.

  2. Game Fan says:

    As far as “business interests” goes, it all depends on how you slice the pie. For example, there’s the “wine and caviar with the politicians” folks, along with the “Am I gonna be a politician or a C.E.O. next year?” concept. Then you have the portion of the private sector which might include “private business” and “mind your own business” and the “without lobbyists” faction which might include the “get off my land before I sick my hound dog on you” folks.

  3. John Konop says:

    My biggest problem with this issue is it seems we the tax payers have no voice. It seems the government will keep pushing the risk on tax payers with large corporations having an out if the deal goes south. This logic is how we got into the current financial mess we are in.

    We must at least have shared risk. What down side risk does Georgia Power have in this transaction? And than look at the downside risk for tax payers, and tell me how this is a shared risk deal?

  4. Icarus says:

    Very, very well stated Buzz.

    “I for one am not interested it seeking retribution on those who voted for SB31. ”

    I couldn’t agree more with this statement. All too often, Bloggers (and voters in general) make rash statements after an elected official makes one vote that they will never support that person again, or that they will work to ensure that person’s defeat. Any person who tries to follow through with these threats will soon find that they have no one to support, and are always against everybody. There are plenty of people like that, and some of them comment here. And it amazes me that they can’t understand why they are ignored by generally all elected officials.

    I’ll use Tom Graves as an example. One year ago, he was the toast of Peach Pundit. He was one of the few willing to stand up to the Speaker for what he thought was right when it differed with the leadership. He lost his committee chairmanship and his office. Now, he’s voted for a bill we disagree with. Are we to throw him overboard and write him off as a tool of Ga Power for (what we believe to be) one bad vote? I think if we did, we would be both silly and immature.

    But being willing to forgive doesn’t mean forgetting, either. Before last week, I would generally have taken most GPPF reports on face value. Their work will be deserving of many more hard questions in the future, not that we’ll necesarily ever get any answers.

    And let’s not let the Senate off the hook here, either. This bill origninated there, but was passed before most of us clearly understood what was actually in the bill. The discussions I had with several Senators ended up giving me false information of what was and was not in this bill. I haven’t decided if these were intentional misdirections or just their own misunderstandings of the bill. This is an inherent problem with citizen legislatures, true, but there are a few people that won’t be given the benefit of the doubt as quickly as they had in the past.

    Now, we move on. The only clear winner here is GA Power. GA Republicans have one more vote proving that they are “pro-big business”. The GPPF has opened themselves up to unnecessary criticism that they are unwilling to answer. GA consumers will pay more for a plant that they’re being told they’re saving money on, while big businesses with lobbyists won’t share in the rate increases. And we at Peach Pundit have had reality forced upon us that when we’re serving to ratify the opinions of Republican leadership we’re great, but if we dare point out the hypocricy of a situation we’re “strange” or “dim”.

    Such are the realities of blogging, politics, and life.

  5. IndyInjun says:

    So, yet again, there you have it. The GOP Georgia legislature has repeatedly and consistently raised my cost of living, despite a platform and creed that indicate otherwise.

    Yet again the judgment of those who see no difference in Republican leadership of this state and the previous Democratic administrations is validated.

    A legislature full of rocks would do less harm.

  6. Georgia Judge says:

    This chapter of building more nukes is almost history….. now what needs to happen is to get them built asap!!! There are pro’s and cons of sb31 and what is done is done,but what doesnt need to happen is to let too much time go by before we increase our nuculear energy options.
    There was a large outcry for nukes when gas was at 4 dollars a gallon,we cant let up just because we have what most likely is a temporary drop in oil prices. I would proffer that it is just as prudent to have proper oversight on building schedules and critical path planning as the financial aspects of sb31.Not choosing sides just saying…….

  7. Icarus says:

    GA Judge,

    The vast majority of us here, and I think all of the front page posters (at least those that have weighed in on this issue) are pro nuclear power. I wrote quite a few pieces on it and energy policy in general well before SB 31 was ever an issue.

    Building more nuclear plants is good, necessary, and long overdue.

    Having consumers and small businesses pay to get this going while large commercial users are not asked to contribute is a problem.

    The fact that this “contribution” consists of $1 BN of front loaded profit is a big problem.

  8. Georgia Judge says:


    I hear what you are saying and I am not debating either side of the arguement of the bill,but it was a given from the beginning this was going to pass.Georgia Power has many relationships earned over many years and like many things in life relationships normally rule the day.

    With that being said I do believe Georgia Power has a record of being a good Corporate citizen for the State of Georgia.Anyone who has sat on a Developement Authority Board has seen the benefits that they bring to the table in luring new jobs to Georgia,and the macro effect of this recruitment reaches far outside the recruited companies gates.

    So now that this is past us lets stay on them to get the nukes built asap[.

  9. atlantaman says:

    I was happy to read this from Oliver and Thomas, two Democrats who were opposed to the bill. The AJC gave them an opportunity to demagogue and neither bit. I felt Thomas gave some rational arguments against the bill in his well speech. I have to laugh when the AJC implies a lawmaker sold his vote for a $30 meal. Some of the accusations about trucks bought for legislators were a little ridiculous.

    Bill opponents such as Oliver and Rep. Brian Thomas (D-Lilburn) say it’s a mistake to link the utility’s success with lawmakers with campaign money or sports tickets. They say Georgia Power’s lobbying operation has left the company with a deep reservoir of goodwill. Oliver said Georgia Power’s lobbyists avoid the kind of back-slapping that often goes with the lobbying territory.

    Instead of relying solely on the most powerful lawmakers, “My understanding is that they spoke with every single legislator,” Thomas said. “I had two meetings with them on this.”

    “They are very thorough in their outreach, and they do a very good job of talking to you even when the session is out, whether they have issues or not.

    “It absolutely helps them,” Thomas said. “There was probably a majority of members who were kind of wishy-washy on this either way. That’s where relationships win.”

  10. Bill Simon says:

    Well….here’s the thing: We only know what IS disclosed as to the influence-via-money process. What IS disclosed is not necessarily ALL that is spent.

    Lots of things can happen “off the books”, and away from view from the ethics commmission. The ethics commission doesn’t audit books or expense reports. It only sees what it is given.

  11. Rick Day says:

    I think you guys who supported those who betrayed your (what you thought were) commonly held principles, now all know how the members of ABATE felt when they believed Sonny would repeal the helmet law (and the flaggers their issue as well). They thought they had a ‘relationship’ with the candidate, only to see him turn his back on that voter block when they too were no longer needed, the tight race with King Fat™ in the history books, and Republican’s everyone’s backroom darlin’s™.My, my, when are you folks going to learn?

  12. Bill Simon says:

    “Fat”, huh? Everything gets reduced down to puerile personal name-calling, eh, Rick? How old are you, again? 10? You’re probably a little pipsqueak in real life.

  13. DecaturGirl56 says:

    After looking at the votes on SB31 I will definitely consider voting for DuBose Porter when it’s time for the Governor’s election. I am tired of having no say over issues like this.

  14. c_murrayiii says:

    I agree with you Buzz, you can’t turn your back on a politician because of one bad vote. I supported McCain after all, and he made several bad legeslative decisions in his career. However, and this is an issue I think that, as Republicans, we really have take a hard look at, and that issue is, when do we stop turning the other way when our GOP elected officials make bad decisions? We let them get away with it for 7 years in D.C. and now we’re an almost invisible minority with no real leaders. And look, we just put Saxby back in, though God knows he was better than Martin, but Saxby is not a real conservative Republican. Where do we draw the line, when do we start making Republican elected officials actually carry out our party ideals of smaller government, lower taxes, and local control.

  15. Dave Bearse says:

    With SB31 so easily enacted and Georgia Power’s deep reservoir of goodwill intact, small ratepayers can look forward to continuing to pay in advance should the plant not go on line and go over budget . The continuing payments after all will only save us ratepayers money in the end, if you live long enough that is.

  16. fishtail says:

    just got this today from Rep. Jimmy Pruett about his support for SB 31:

    I wanted to send you the following information on SB 31.

    SB 31

    SB 31 allows Georgia Power to raise customer rates incrementally over
    seven years to pay for construction loan interest during construction of
    large infrastructure projects.

    SB 31 strengthens Georgia’s long-term financial and production capacity
    to provide low cost, clean energy to its citizens, which reduces the
    state’s reliance on existing coal- and natural gas-fired plants that are
    more subject to expensive federal environmental mandates and a volatile
    world market.

    Two new nuclear reactors

    Georgia Power’s parent company, Southern Company, is currently going
    through the federal permitting process to add two new nuclear reactors
    to Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro to meet Georgia’s growing energy needs.
    39 EMCs and 49 MEAG cities will own 55% of the new Vogtle 3 and 4
    nuclear units.

    SB 31 does not authorize the construction of the new reactors;
    construction and repayment of appropriate costs will occur regardless of
    SB 31. The bill alters only the timing during which construction
    financing costs are recouped.

    Effect on ratepayers with SB 31

    With SB 31, customers will pay a 1.3% rate increase each year from 2011
    to 2017, a total compounded increase of 9.5%. In the first year, the
    1.3% increase equates to a $1.30 increase for the average $100 monthly
    residential bill. After construction, customers will pay the 9.5%
    increase over the 60-year operating life of the plant.

    Effect on ratepayers without SB 31

    Without SB 31, customers will pay a 6% rate increase in 2016 followed by
    another 6% increase in 2017, effectively raising energy rates by a
    compounded 12.4% over a 13-month period. Customers will then pay the
    12.4% increase over the 60-year operating life of the plant.

    Eliminating interest on interest

    With SB 31, the total amount that Georgia Power’s customers pay for
    construction interest will be $300 million less because interest will
    not be charged on interest for the construction costs.

    Arguments for and against SB 31 relating to the time value of money are
    subject to numerous variables, financial risk preferences, and vary
    widely among individual citizens.

    Southern Company stockholders and the Public Service Commission (PSC)

    The Public Service Commission (PSC) currently authorizes Georgia Power
    to charge customers for financing expenses during construction on a
    year-to-year, short-term basis. Without SB 31, Georgia Power will lack
    longer term certainty on recovering prudent financing costs, which could
    negatively influence it’s “A” credit rating.

    The PSC sets the rate of return for Southern Company stockholders, which
    remains unchanged by SB 31. Also, the PSC sets the proportion of
    financing for capital projects for Georgia Power at 50% debt and 50%
    equity, which remains unchanged by SB 31.

    EMCs and MEAGs already do this…and more

    Georgia Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs) and Municipal Electric
    Authority of Georgia (MEAG) cities are authorized and may increase
    customer rates incrementally during construction to pay for construction
    loan interest. SB 31 extends the capability to Georgia Power, bringing
    the power generation companies into parity regarding construction
    financing costs. Furthermore, EMCs and MEAG cities are authorized and
    may increase customer rates incrementally during construction to pay for
    “bricks and mortar” construction costs. SB 31 does not extend this
    authority to Georgia Power.

    Half of Georgia already pays this way…and more

    EMCs and MEAG cities serve half of all electric power customers in
    Georgia, 2.3 million. Georgia Power serves the other half, 2.3 million.


    Rep. Jimmy Pruett

  17. Truthteller says:

    Got to love the Bill Simon, an intellectually lightweight name-caller if there ever was one, criticizing someone for name-calling.

    More hypocrisy than Mark Foley in a teen bar. Again.

    Bill writes: “You’re probably a little pipsqueak in real life.”

    Now on the topic: SB 31 was a bum bill. The real reason the legislators voted for it is that they know that come 2010 most voters won’t really cast their votes based on this and won’t remember.

    But lobbyists will remember.

  18. Doug Deal says:

    Icarus and Buzz,

    You do not have to turn your back on them for one bad vote, but is this really just one? Aren’t we at least up to counting on our toes by this point? Every elected representative from every party should have a primary challenger greeting them on qualifying day each and every time they are up for re-election. Not necessarily to unseat them but to have them at least answer for their repeated one-bad-votes and add a little fear of the voters back in their lives.

  19. Robert.Mason says:

    While I agree that we shouldn’t turn our backs, it’s difficult. I feel like backs were turned on us, making it tough not to support someone who voted in favor of the people. I looked over Rep. Porter’s remarks after reading DecaturGirl56’s post and it looks like he understands our frustrations. I am just not sure this is a vote that I will be able to overlook when election time arrives (in regards to those who voted yes).

    Comments from State Representative DuBose Porter on SB 31 from the well of the Ga. House today

    Atlanta – House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) made the following remarks today on the floor of the Georgia House of Representatives during the debate of Senate Bill 31.

    “Georgia Power is a great company. Georgia Power is good for Georgia. They help us with conservation programs, they aid when disaster hits and they keep our state’s lights on. Georgia Power is good for Georgia………however this financing bill is not.

    This type of bill has been tried before and it was labeled a retirement bill. AND a lot of us are going to be retired if we pass this bill and we should be.

    In the early 80’s it was projected that our two new nuclear plants would cost $660 million. By the time they were operational the cost had ballooned to 9 billion dollars. This plants final budget will more than likely do the same.

    The burden of this bill will end up on the backs of individual customers and small businesses as the use of the word “embedded” exempts part of the industrial and large retailer’s load.

    This bill will ask our people, our senior citizens and our working families that have still have jobs to pre-pay the financing during the worst economic times in recent history.

    Right now there are more people unemployed in Georgia than the amount of people that live in the city of Atlanta.

    I just want you to ask yourself what I read yesterday on the Republican blog Peach Pundit, “How will you go back home, look your people in the eyes, and tell them that Georgia Power needs this advance profit more than your people need the money to pay their bills?

    As a past Governor has said, the people of Georgia need a people’s lobbyist. Today we will find them and they will be identified by the red no votes that you will see on this board,” said House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin).

  20. Bill Simon says:

    Amazing how “Truthteller” extracts his head from his rear-end at random times, makes a comment, then shoves his head back up that cozy, dank place he thrives in.

  21. Truthteller says:

    Simon please answer once and for all.

    Are you in fact the biggest hypocrite around?

    Was calling someone a name (pipsqueak) for calling someone else a name hypocritical?

    And are you truly the most unaccomplished person on these blogs?

    Now, again about SB31. Seems to me that this is effectively a tax increase. Normally people wouldn’t remember that, though.

    After all voters forgave sonny perdue for proposing a series of tax increases when he first got elected because the Republican majority stopped him from raising taxes.

    But this time might be a bit different, especially if Sonny keeps trying to raise taxes again.

    Porter can’t win. But he can cause lots of trouble by just calling this thing nothing but a tax increase, and force the Republicans to explain how it’s Not-really-a-tax increase-but-a-rate-increase-and-it’s-Ok-because-it’s-an-investment-for-the-future-but-Obama’s-investments-in-the-future-are-really-really-bad.

  22. Icarus says:

    Doug, Robert Mason, others,

    I’m not saying this one vote doesn’t count. I’m saying that I’m not going to adopt the Frigtard position that says I may have given you a lifetime A rating in the past, but because of this one vote, you now get an F.

    It is one vote among many. It will receive a higher weight than most, but it is still one vote in the evaluation of who I can support going forward, and who I can’t.

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