Unlike football, energy is not something most people tend to think about a whole lot. It is not something you can get at the grocery store or buy on Amazon.com; it is not something you can watch on YouTube or eat. It is, however, everywhere, and connected to everything. Energy matters because it impacts our environment, our communities, our health, our economy and our wallets.
Residential expenditures on energy in Georgia are the 10th highest in the country and our residents spend nearly $9 Billion dollars a year on energy. Individual customers are impacted financially by the decisions made by energy providers and regulators. In its 2016 energy plan, currently before the Public Service Commission, Georgia Power requested $175 million of ratepayer funds to pay itself back for a recent purchase of 7,000 acres of land along the Chattahoochee River on which it wants to construct a nuclear plant South of Ft. Benning.
The proposal hit a hurdle when Commissioner McDonald stood up for Georgia ratepayers and requested that the company, instead of burdening customers with the costs, pay for the project itself. This motion to separate the potential cost burden on Georgia ratepayers from the current 2016 energy plan is a wise one, and hopefully, will be supported by the Commission at large.
Risk is a huge contributor to cost. On Monday, Georgia Power announced its plan to excavate and “close” a number of its coal ash ponds located around the state. This is great, but somewhat vague. Georgia Power says it will “close” its coal ash ponds, but at the same time, it will continue to burn coal at its active sites? Riddle me that.
High-risk energy like coal, nuclear and natural gas, create a large uncertainty about future costs. Across the country, utility companies have been slapped with massive fines for cleanup costs associated with coal ash spills. The costs of risky energy are a gamble that many shareholders are not interested in taking: last month, shareholders representing 34% of Southern Company stock voted in support of a plan to limit carbon emissions.
Georgia Power has an opportunity to improve our state by taking responsible, bold steps towards a clean energy economy that will protect Georgia’s customers and our natural resources.
“Closing #coalash ponds in GA won’t matter if you continue to burn dirty coal at the site. Install homegrown #georgiasolar at all sites.”