A More Equitable Energy Future for Georgia

Georgians Face a High Energy Burden

Georgians pay some of the highest monthly energy bills nationwide, and many communities statewide face a significant energy burden—the percentage of household income spent on energy costs.

Greater investments in solar and energy efficiency would lessen this burden, allowing customers to save on monthly bills and avoid the need for expensive, unnecessary power plants. But the largest utility in the state, Georgia Power, has consistently done the bare minimum when it comes to helping its customers manage high electric bills.

The Georgia Public Service Commission

As the regulators of Georgia Power, the Public Service Commission has the power to make the utility do more to support its customers and is required to take public interest into account in considering whether energy decisions will benefit the entire state.

The Commission has delivered on some focal points of SELC’s energy equity advocacy in recent proceedings, including expanded solar offerings and incremental but important steps to improve Georgia Power’s energy efficiency programs.

Unfortunately, many of Georgia’s past energy decisions have been distorted by the utility’s incentive to build and profit from large capital projects, like Plant Vogtle, rather than protecting customers from bearing the financial brunt.  

Plant Vogtle: An Outdated, Expensive Project

The construction of Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4—once deemed a prudent path for meeting Georgia's energy needs and now the only new nuclear units still under construction in the United States—has ballooned into the single most expensive capital project in state history.

Georgia Power received regulatory approval from the Public Service Commission to continue the project, even after projections put the final price tag at nearly double the original amount. Originally scheduled for completion in 2016 and 2017, the two units are more than five years behind schedule.  

While this project may have once made sense for Georgians, Georgia Power’s shareholders will benefit the most from its continuation. Georgia Power has already collected over $2.8 billion dollars from its customers to “finance” the project, most of which is profit for the utility's shareholders or taxes on profit.

Vogtle's blown budget will mean higher power bills for millions of Georgians for decades to come, as most of Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives and municipal electric utilities (and a city utility in Florida and several Alabama electric cooperatives) also have a stake in this project.

As the costs of the Vogtle units have soared, SELC is making the case that Georgia Power should not be allowed to shift all of the risk away from its shareholders and make customers—especially Georgians struggling to keep up with monthly bills—bear the entire burden of this boondoggle.

Charting a New, More Equitable Energy Future

Under the Commission’s leadership, Georgia should be moving away from expensive, outdated energy investments and toward modern, more affordable options for meeting our energy needs.

SELC is striving to set Georgia on a different and far more cost-effective course—one that places greater reliance on smart, steady investments in solar and energy efficiency to meet current and future energy demands.

In 2018, SELC and our partners Georgia Interfaith Power & Light and Partnership for Southern Equity launched FairEnergyNow.org to inform Georgians about the unfair burden of high energy costs on communities and to provide an outlet to make their voices heard ahead of major energy decisions.

Through this platform, we are continuing to build public support and engagement with audiences statewide for broad policy reform that speaks to the financial pain faced by Georgia communities as a result of past inequitable energy decisions, and to lay the groundwork to secure additional clean energy investments in 2020 and beyond.