Two members of the state’s Public Service Commission are up for election this year. The race is one of the few statewide contests on the November ballot. And it has new relevance as the PSC monitors the nation’s first nuclear expansion in 30 years.
State utility regulators decided Tuesday to allow Georgia Power to close two outdated coal fired plants. It’s a decision that complies with federal environmental rules, but it may come at a price to power customers.
Nuclear power plant expansions are moving forward in the South while they are stalled or have been scrapped in other parts of the country. The South's politics have a lot to do with that trend. Lawmakers here prefer regulated markets and smooth the way for expensive new reactors.
The state Public Service Commission has approved spending $10 million to help low-income residents pay their heating bills. The money comes from a fund Atlanta Gas Light uses to extend pipelines to where homes and businesses are being built. The PSC asked AGL to curb its 2012 project requests to make the heating assistance available.
Atlanta Gas Light got the go-ahead Tuesday from the Public Service Commission to build a network of compressed natural gas stations. They’ll begin in metro Atlanta, with hopes for expansion elsewhere across Georgia. Atlanta Gas Light is set to begin construction on the stations by late 2012.
Georgia utility regulator will tell Congress that more time and study is needed before coal-fired power plants should be forced to meet stricter environmental rules. Public Service Commission Chairman Stan Wise is scheduled to testify Wednesday before a House committee examining the effects of new rules that could affect the U.S. power industry.
Georgia Power is taking bids for a project that will generate enough solar energy to power 20,000 homes. It’s the company’s largest solar undertaking. The Public Service Commission charged Georgia Power to expand its solar investment earlier this year.
In a unanimous vote, utility regulators rejected a plan Tuesday that would have tied Georgia’s Powers profits to its ability to stay within budget for its nuclear expansion project. The Public Service Commission will rely on regular reviews to monitor costs.
Georgia Power could earn more money if it goes over-budget building two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta. Right now Georgia Power can earn up to 12 percent of what it charges customers. Plant Vogtle’s construction costs are included in that charge which means higher building expenditures could boost Georgia Power’s profit.
Georgia Power says it will be shuttering three power plants for economic reasons. Two coal fired units at Plant Branch in Milledgeville will close in 2013. That’s a result of federal regulation tightening air pollution controls. The company has said it’s too costly to upgrade those units.