Atlanta November 4, 2019……The message from the people is that it’s time to vote out the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) because they represent Georgia Power and not the citizens of Georgia. It’s time for Georgia Power to pay for their toxic ash pond mess out of their huge profits and not stick the public with this bill.
Outside the PSC office on Washington Street, people from across Georgia came to protest Georgia Power’s 2.2 billion dollar rate hike over the next three years. Everyone pays a base fee of ten dollars per month to have an account with Georgia Power and now they want to raise that to $17.95 per month by 2022 and also raise the price per kilowatt.
“These increases will mean an extra three hundred dollars per year for people who use the least amount of electricity and up to about five hundred per year for folks who use and an average amount of electricity per month,” Wan Smith, Just Energy Community Organizer, Partnership with Southern Equity, said.
“Georgia Power has been killing folks with their dirty coal power for decades. Across this nation, 52 thousand people die every year because we burn coal,” Neil Sardana, Georgia Beyond Coal Organizer with Sierra Club, said.
Georgia Power has millions of tons of this toxic coal ash from decades of burning coal. The tons of leftover toxic coal ash that remain is leaking into and polluting our water, air, and land. This pollution impacts families and children who are getting sick with asthma, heart disease, lung cancer and other forms of cancer.
“Is Georgia Power paying for any of their medical bills?” Sardana asks and the crowd yells “NO” “But they [Georgia Power] want y’all to pay their bills.”
“Georgia Power wants 500 million dollars from every one of y”all[citizens of Georgia] to pay to clean up this toxic coal ash mess that they made and that is harming our bodies, our families, our water, air, and land. Now they want to harm our pocketbooks by charging us with this pollution [clean up] that they created,” Sardana explains to the crowd.
But the PSC has said that they are not sure that Georgia Power knew that burning coal, along with the leftover coal ash, would have a negative impact on people’s health and the environment.
“We have been burning coal in this nation for a century and the PSC don’t think they [Georgia Power] have a clue that it’s hurting people?” Neil questions and adds “That’s BS.”
Former State Senator Vincent Fort attended the hearing inside and came out to join the people outside protesting the rate hike. “I thought the PSC was the Georgia Power Commission because they acted like they were representing Georgia Power,” Fort said.
“It is time to start a movement, a unity in the streets to fight and stop the rate hike and run these folks out of office,” Fort said.
Another speaker, Tamika Middleton, the Organizing Coordinator with the National Domestic Workers Alliance/Atlanta Chapter, represents home cleaners, home care workers and childcare providers.
“Almost half of the domestic workers are responsible for 100% of the income in their households, with 22 % earning more than half of the household income, and 72 % earn less than thirty thousand dollars a year. These folks can’t afford these hikes. It is low earnings households that use utilities the least that will suffer the most by these rate increases,” Middleton said.
“How can a company from a moral aspect ask us for billions of dollars out of working-class people’s pockets when they gave their CEO 5.4 million dollars as a bonus. That’s greed upon greed,” Rev. Ken Love, Sankofa United Church of Christ, said.
Rev. Love fears that with this rate hike, seniors will now have to decide between food, prescription drugs, or paying their electric bill.
He encourages everyone to vote all the Republican PSC members out of office because they do not represent the people.
This includes Tim Echols (R-Bogart), Chuck Eaton (R-Atlanta), Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Jr (R-Clarksville), Tricia Pridemore (R-Marietta) and Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland).
To hear Georgia Power and Southern Company talk about how they need more money from Georgia Power customers, you would not know that Paul Bowers, CEO, Georgia Power made over $4 million in total compensation and Thomas Fanning, President & CEO at Southern Company made over $12 million in total compensation. Southern Company made $3 billion in profits in 2018 and Georgia Power made $1.4 billion in 2017.
With all their profits, bonuses, and huge salaries, they want the citizens of Georgia to pay $2.2 billion to clean up storm and hurricane damage, clean up 29 coal ash ponds and money to invest in the electrical grid, as reported in Streets of Atlanta last month.
Inside the Hearing Room
Glenn Carroll, coordinator of Nuclear Watch South spoke truth to the PSC and Georgia Power at the hearing on Monday, along with about 40 other people who spoke against the rate hike.
Carroll testified that Georgia Power has declared its profits every year in annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission averaging more than 12.5% profits annually for the years 1998-2018.
You can notice from the chart that after construction began in 2011 on Plant Vogtle 3 and 4, their profits jumped up about 14% on average between 2011 and 2018.
“Georgia Power’s rates should be decreased until the company’s average profit is brought in line with the generous 10.95% annual return on equity which the PSC has authorized,” Carroll said.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) Blog on Rate Hike
The mandatory fees take away customer control and burden seniors and working families with low income the most. The mandatory fees help utility shareholders and executives, not customers and punish energy conservation and solar energy. Click the link below for more details.
by Gloria Tatum