Back in February, Georgia Power argued that a free market in solar power would cause price increases. Yet they already increased prices for natural gas and for nuclear plants that won't produce electricity for years, if ever, and are already massively overbudget and behind schedule. Why should we believe them about solar when it's their archaic projects they already are deploying that already have increased customer prices?
In February, Greg Roberts of Georgia Power argued,
Another reason is that the customers of Georgia Power, Georgia's EMC's and Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia are paying for the poles and wires to transmit power, and the back-up generation to cover the electricity needs when the sun isn't shining. These costs will have to be recovered from other customers not getting the privileged deal from the developer, raising everyone else's rates.
While there are already numerous federal and state tax and other incentives for solar development in Georgia, it is still much more costly than the service provided by utilities. But what if third-party solar developers could get other electric customers in Georgia to foot the bill? That would be the result of this legislation.
It's like asking Sally's Café to pay the electric bill of Joe's Cafe across the street, thus allowing Joe to undercut Sally's prices.
Georgia Power well knows they could take a percentage of any power transmitted through their lines, so that wires and poles and backup generation argument is ludicrous. And as far as subsidies, how about this one, Georgia Power, Get the Facts, Investing in Georgia's Energy Future:
The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) voted Dec. 21 to approve a plan that will increase Georgia Power's base rates about 10 percent beginning Jan. 1, 2011 to recover the costs of investments in cleaner generation sources, power lines, smart grid technologies, environmental controls and energy efficiency programs to meet current and future customer demand.
Beginning Jan, 1, 2011:
Additional increases are as follows Year Monthly Dollar Increase Percentage Increase 2011 $10.76 10% 2012 $3.09 2.6% 2013 $1.48 1.2%
For business customers, the average increase will range from about 7 percent to 8.7 percent.
So if it's about 10% increase overall, and business customers average only 7% to 8.7% increase, who gets more than 10% increase? That would be Sally and Joe's customers at their home meters!
If Georgia Power is so organized about power lines that solar would disturb that and cause price increases, why did Georgia Power less than two years ago raise rates partly to deploy power lines? At a time when even National Geographic could find few if any solar plants in Georgia and was repeating GEFA's canard that solar was only for the southwest while biomass was for Georgia? (Funny how other companies have plans for several solar plants in Georgia as big as any solar plant Southern Company has deployed in the southwest, and none of the Georgia ones require any rate hikes.)
And what are these "cleaner generation sources" Georgia Power already raised prices to cover?
- In Cleaner Natural Gas Generation—To ensure adequate and cleaner energy when our customers need it. At Plant McDonough, coal-fueled units are being replaced with natural gas units. The new units will produce enough electricity to power 625,000 homes. This change will ensure reliability of electric service to north Georgia while reducing the environmental impact of the plant on the local community.
That's right: Georgia Power got its captive GA PSC to approve a massive subsidy for natural gas generation, and then a year later complained that solar power has subsidies. How's that for chutzpah, for nerve, for arrogance?
And let's not forget that
- back in 2009 Georgia Power got the legislature to approve a rate hike that appears on your Georgia Power bill as Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery Rider of around 4-5% for two new nuclear reactors on the Savannah River
- that are already about $900 million overbudget and we hear may be another $3.5 billion over budget, or around a third extra over the original projected costs: all of which the GA PSC says can be passed through to Georgia Power customers.
- And then there's the third leg of Southern Company's three-legged nuclear regulatory-capture stool: that $8.3 billion federal loan guarantee for those new nukes.
So tell us again, Georgia Power, why you're so concerned about solar subsidies when you've raised rates on your own customers 10% already for natural gas and 4-5% for your new nukes? Why is GA Power CEO Bowers pushing solar misinformation out the next fifty years while wallowing in natural gas and nuclear subsidies?
Maybe the real reason is you know solar already beats natural gas when you compare construction costs directly, and figure in no air quality permits and no fuel costs for solar.
Maybe the real reason is Georgia Power is afraid it can't compete with GaSU and Dr. Smith and you in solar power. Which is actually a foolish phobia, because Georgia Power has a massive advantage of scale in its grid and experience, and if it just got a move on and got to deploying solar and wind and a smart grid, it could sell technology and power to the world.
Stop dragging us behind, Georgia Power. Get out in front and lead the world in solar and wind power! For your own profit, for our profit, for jobs, for clean air and enough water. Help the sun rise over Georgia!