This Week in Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, or Ask Georgia Power

March 5, 2013 11:03 am

by Stefan · 28 comments

 

Georgia Power answers Frequently Asked Questions!

You want solar energy?

Well, you cant have it. Here at Georgia Power we hate the sun but, like you, love the Twilight movies.

You want clean air?

Well, you can’t have it. We need to exhaust spent coal in that air to power your air conditioners so you can escape the outside air, that we are polluting, for you!

You want be healthy and not have a terrible kidney disease from living near GP’s Plant Scherer?

Well, you can’t have it, because it’s likely that plant causes disease, but look we tried to buy out the people living there for pennies on the dollar, which was a good deal considering that living there was so dangerous.

You want Walmart to pay the same rates per unit as residential customers?

Well, you can’t have it. We finagled a sweet deal for ourselves, and for Walmart, too, but just so we could keep cheap Chinese plastic goods cheap for you!

You want Georgia Power to be responsible for the cost overruns at its mammoth new nuclear facility?

Well, you can’t have it, because today Rep. Chapman’s bill to do just that died in committee, felled by the many coal-powered arrows of Georgia Power.

Will Durant March 5, 2013 at 11:40 am

You left out the windmills. In my entire lifetime in Georgia no one has successfully gored a Southern Company windmill.

Ken March 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm

You missed one:

You want moderately-priced green energy?

Well, you can’t have it. It’s ridiculously expensive and would put middle-income families in the poor hoise. Even if it weren’t, wind power is so irregular (except under the Gold Dome) that if it’s over 20% of our power source then the grid is not stable. And unicorns are, sadly, mythological.

Will Durant March 5, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Perhaps I was being too obtuse. With the exceptions of a few areas in the mountains and off of the coast wind power is barely feasible in Georgia. I’ve never seen Georgia Power lose in the Georgia legislature or the PSC and I’m not fooled by them asking for twice as much as they want and getting half.

Maybe I should have said no one has ever successfully tilted at a Southern Company cooling tower?

Ken March 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Hi Will,

Just a gentle reminder to Stefan that green energy is called “green” because it takes a lot of that to establish and even more “green” from families to pay for its use.

I should have been more clear. I just brought up wind power because so many people think it’s a great idea, but there are reasons T. Boone Pickens stopped pushing wind power years ago (e.g. it’s not profitable and it’s destabilizing because there’s not a practical or efficient way to store the generated power).

Stefan March 5, 2013 at 2:27 pm

You know what’s nearly free? Nuclear power plants.

Mike Stucka March 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm

There are some solutions, which by definition are less than 100% efficient and aren’t feasible everywhere:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludington_Pumped_Storage_Power_Plant

I think the Ludington plant, as are most others, are there essentially to use cheap off-peak electricity to create cheap(er) peak electricity. Peak capacity is the perpetual problem.

peachstealth March 5, 2013 at 5:35 pm

You do realize Ga Power already does that don’t you? They pump water from Lake Sinclair into Lake Oconee at night and release it during peak hours.

Stefan March 5, 2013 at 2:36 pm

And to your point, Will, they are most definitely giants.

debbie0040 March 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm

The legislators were more concerned about keeping Georgia Powers stockholders happy than standing up for rate payers / voters.

debbie0040 March 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Georgia Power stated there were not cost over runs, there were just increased costs. There us almost one billion dollars already in cost over runs, excuse me, meant increased costs . Georgia Power makes 11.5% profit on those increased costs

Scott65 March 5, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Who is on this committee? Hope they have big targets on their backs next election if they tried to kill this

debbie0040 March 6, 2013 at 10:14 am

Don Parsons Harry Geisinger, Katie Dempsey, Robert Dickey III, Mike Dudgeon, Matt Hatchett, Chuck Martin, Sam Teasley Earnest Smith all voted yes on the Do Not Pass recomendation and sided with Georgia Power over rate payers..

Doug Holt opposed the Do Not Pass recomendation. We thank him for that stance.

The hearing was a sub committee so no recording was done. Someone took great notes and sent them to me. Here is the link to read them

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0FftSm604-oZUhJS1QzS25iUHc/edit?usp=sharing

contact info.
http://www.house.ga.gov/Committees/en-US/committee.aspx?Committee=128&Session=23

seekingtounderstand March 5, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Ok gut Ga power and then when you are crying because you do not have power who are you going to call, the solar company?
If everyone put up solar today you would still need a system to get the power u need when its dark or winter or your batteries didn’t hold enough power………………
Ga Power would become the pipe line companies or MLP”s
The worst thing for life is to destroy a strong power company which has proven to be responsible. There are consequences when government runs utilities, it has hugh problems also. Go as people that are on Buford GAS is they are happy customers……………NO.

debbie0040 March 6, 2013 at 9:27 am

no one is talking about gutting Georgia Power. We just don’t believe they made a good faith estimate of costs when they were trying to get SB 31 passed. We don’t think they should make a profit on cost over runs. How is that gutting GA Power?

Scott65 March 6, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Also I dont think anyone believes GP should have an incentive for cost over runs by making profits on said over runs that we are being billed for every month

David Staples March 6, 2013 at 2:47 pm

“anyone” is a rather large group. I don’t think most reasonable people believe that, but I do believe there are those who think GP should be able to make a profit on cost overruns. An example:

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/bill-to-limit-georgia-powers-profits-at-vogtle-fai/nWhZ9/

“Do you want to incentivize us to not pay for cybersecurity?” asked Greene, a partner with the firm Troutman Sanders.

So… let me get this straight. The original cost estimate neglected to include cybersecurity? Sounds to me like extremely poor planning. No wonder they’re experiencing cost overruns.

debbie0040 March 5, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I checked the motion and they passed it out of the sub committee with a do not pass recommendation. Doesn’t it go to the full committee now?

Stefan March 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I believe that’s right. Perhaps my death knell was premature, but the likelihood of it surviving is remote.

debbie0040 March 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm

You are right Stefan. I think many people that attended the hearing on HB267 left wondering if this is the State of Georgia or the State of Georgia Power. Some of the legislators acted like they were surrogates of Georgia Power. It was hard to tell if they were legislators or lobbyists..

The Last Democrat in Georgia March 6, 2013 at 1:46 am

“The State of Georgia Power”…That’s a good one and, unfortunately, from the overwhelming evidence that we’ve seen over the years, it’s likely so very true.

Scott65 March 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Remember this next time you vote for the slots on the PSC…its more important then people realize (I would say your rep under the dome…but I think that is already understood)

seekingtounderstand March 5, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Have you ever been to a PSC meeting? Have you ever stood against a rip off government run utility company like Buford GAS who builds Trump Towers while over charging poor people from other counties with no option to change companies.
You guys have no clue on this issue because if you did you would know that the fix is worse then what you have now. You would drive costs up for all of us just like when the Ma Bells broke up……………………….learn more as to what happens to the states who have power companies ripped of the ability to invest in their systems……….you would not like it when its hot.

Dave Bearse March 6, 2013 at 9:17 am

Everyone’s cost didn’t go up when the telecom industry was dergulated. The cost to customers with significant long distance usage decreased.

The situation had some similiarity to the Buford Gas situation. Long distance service was heavily subsidizing local service. The subsidy had become so great that it became economical for companies with great long distance usage to develop their own private communications systems from scratch. Companies with geographically spread out real estate like railroads or Georgia Power were erecting microwave towers for their own use (or in the case of railroads microwave towers and laying cable on their ROW) and selling excess capacity to other long distance users. The country would have had a hodgepodge of hundreds of private long distance communications systems, not necessarily interoperable, had long distance not been deregulated.

David Staples March 6, 2013 at 10:19 am

I understand you’ve got issues with Buford Gas, but you’ll have to address those issues with the legislature. The PSC has little authority over government run utilities other than safety and territory. See the FAQ on the PSC’s website:
————————————————–
Q4. What Is Regulated by the PSC?

A.
Electric
Investor-owned electric power companies (1)
Electric membership corporations (42) (Territory and financing only)
Municipally-owned electric power companies (52) (Territory only)

Natural Gas
Investor-owned natural gas companies (2)
Liquefied Natural Gas Plants (5) (Safety only)
Master meter operators (131) (Safety only)
Municipally-owned natural gas companies (84) (Safety and territory only)
————————————————–

Investor owned utilities are regulated differently than municipally owned utilities. The PSC does have the authority to prevent Georgia Power from charging those cost overruns to the ratepayer, but when they refuse to even charge Georgia Power with $3.2M worth of imprudent costs – even when their own expert witness says they should – they still vote against the ratepayer. So perhaps there are other ways that GP customers could not get ripped off… I just don’t see it as very likely that there would be enough votes (3) to do so.

seekingtounderstand March 5, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Go study what happen to Long Island Power Authority company or Florida Power………….or why Savannah Power had put so much system work off that their system could fail and could not expand due to politics.

Scott65 March 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm

I believe companies with government awarded monopolies need to be heavily regulated…thats just my opinion. You speak as though there is some competative aspect to electricity for most of GA, there isn’t. GA Power is not going to do anything to hurt their bottom line. They will invest regardless of regulation if it is in their best interest to do so. The example of telecom is so fitting since MA Bell is just about back. When you have a monopoly (example AT&T, Windstream, or Comcast)…you DONT get investment, only price hikes and inferior service. Check the speeds/prices Comcast is offering in Chattanooga with what your choices are in central or southern GA (if they are offering anything at all). Competitive markets lead to innovation and better service. There is no regulation per say on these companies and oh, btw if a community wants to wire itself because the incumbent refuses to guess what…the legislature feels that should not be allowed…because that would reduce AT&T’s profits…bunch of hypocrites pushing this bill

Scott65 March 6, 2013 at 1:10 pm

that should have been competitive aspect at the beginning…edit, please

The Last Democrat in Georgia March 6, 2013 at 1:48 am

Good post, Stefan.

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