The slowing economy has hurt Georgia Power's profits, so the utility company got permission from regulators to boost its income by taking from an account that holds money overpaid by customers.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) voted unanimously to allow Georgia Power to use $108 million this year to enhance its financial bottom line. That money comes from a fund meant to refurbish old equipment. But that fund over-collected from ratepayers years ago to the tune of more than $300 million.
The utility says without the PSC's permission to dip into it, it would have been forced to ask for a rate increase. By law, Georgia Power can profit between 10.25 to 12.25 percent. Without the money, the company projects it will drop below that margin.
Georgia Power initially asked for $324 million up front, but the PSC is only giving it a third for now and the company can have the rest next year, but only enough to keep their profits just below the set margin.
The PSC says the measure ensures energy rates for Georgia Power customers will stay the same until January 1, 2011.