As Georgia Power asks its regulators for its largest rate hike in decades, the company also wants to change the way it sets rates. Georgia Power is a regulated monopoly, so the state sets a window on how much profit it can make.
Rolled into its latest billion dollar rate increase request is a mechanism that would make it easier for the company to raise rates if profits go down or lower rates if they go up.
Angela Spier Phelps with Georgia Watch says lowering rates, however is unlikely. She points to a 6 billion dollar nuclear expansion of plant vogtle, and says the new mechanism allows little scrutiny of Georgia Power.
"You’re not going to have a thorough vetting of the facts and figures and really getting behind the numbers to justify whether or not the increase is needed or whether it’s gouging your customers," says Spier-Phelps.
Currently the elected Public Service Commission gets six months to review the company’s finances. The new way would give the PSC just 60 days.
Georgia Power is telling the PSC the change would benefit customers because increases could come more gradually. The PSC will decide on the rate hike in December.