Hold on to your wallets – open letter to Georgia Power customers

Have you ever seen the commercial that ends with the saying “What’s in YOUR wallet?” Well if you are an electric power customer in Georgia, the answer is a nuclear power train wreck!

Please let me take a minute and share with you a little southern straight talk about what has been happening while you have been trying to make an honest living. Some of the boys down the road hatched a plan to make money at your expense. They are going to tell you its really complicated and trust them, it will all work out just fine. But don’t you believe them for a minute. They’ve created a mess and you are paying for their mistakes.

Here is what you need to know – the boys in suits at Georgia Power schemed up a way to make more money for their stockholders in 2006 by announcing plans to build a couple of fancy new nuclear power plants. They talked the boys in public power into joining the scheme. Next they went to the Georgia legislature and had them pass a bill that basically said all the financial risk of building these great big power plants would be put on the ratepayers, like you and me, but all the profits would go to the stockholders in the companies and the executives would get big bonuses. You know the drill. See, they make money on every dollar they spend, so the more they spend, the more they make. The only problem is, it’s your money.

So once they had the politicians in on the deal, all they needed were the folks at the Public Service Commission (PSC) to “rubber stamp” the scheme. The PSC is supposed to protect you from these monopoly utility schemes that make big money for their stockholders. The PSC is charged with making sure your electric rates stay low and the lights stay on; however, let’s just say they’ve literally been asleep at the switch.  They ignored all the red flags that folks raised about the risks of building these big power plants and look what happened: the nuclear projects have gone way over budget – and I mean billions of dollars over budget – and are years behind schedule. And, because of these cost overruns and delays, your electric bill is going up, and is going to continue to go up, with no end in sight.

If this was not bad enough, it’s about to get a whole lot worse. This is the “train wreck” part. So a big Japanese company called Toshiba, bought the U.S. company Westinghouse. It was Westinghouse that designed and agreed to build a new design of nuclear reactors that have never operated anywhere in the world. Well, when they started falling behind schedule, Westinghouse executives talked Toshiba into buying the companies that were slow in doing the work. Before long Toshiba/Westinghouse about owned it all. When the costs kept going up, even the utility boys got nervous and soon the blame game began. And then came the lawsuits and now Westinghouse has filed for bankruptcy. Oh, but it gets worse: it appears that Westinghouse and Toshiba have made promises they can not fulfill, and the bookkeeping is so bad at Toshiba that the big accountants will not stand by the company’s audit. They may have to go out of business. What a train wreck!

How do we stop the train wreck?

First the PSC in Georgia has to protect you and demand a transparent review of this project that is open to the public to see if it even makes sense to continue building these things. Two of the commissioners are up for reelection next year: Chairman Stan Wise and Chuck Eaton. There is no reason to keep throwing YOUR good money after bad. They need to force the utility’s stockholders to have some skin in the game. See, up until this point, all this bad stuff has been happening and the utility stockholders have been making money at your expense. Remember that’s how this all got started in the first place, when the utilities got the legislature to put all the risk of building these power plants on you and me, while making sure all the profits flow to the utility investors and executives no matter what happens. Spending someone else’s money is a sure-fire way to guarantee no accountability.

There is a saying,“if you are not mad, you are not paying attention.” A whole bunch of us need to get mad, fast. And in the meantime, we’ve got to hold on tight to our wallets!

 Georgia’s Public Service Commissioners

Above (left to right) are PSC Commissioners, Chuck Eaton (ceaton@psc.state.ga.us; 404-657-2020) and Chairman Stan Wise (stanwise@psc.state.ga.us; 404-657-4574), both of which are up for re-election in 2018.

Above (left to right) are PSC Commissioners, Tim Echols (techols@psc.state.ga.us; 404-463-0214), H. Doug Everett (deverett@psc.state.ga.us; 404-463-6746) and Lauren “Bubba” McDonald (lmcdonald@psc.state.ga.us; 404-463-4260).

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Georgia Power should be compelled by the PSC to send a separate mailing to the rate payers which explains how we got here and what the consequences of going forward with building these units will be to the rate payer. That mailing should include resources independent of Georgia Power that people can reference which would allow them stay abreast of what is going on.

Comment by John Garnham on April 18, 2017 8:14 am

I’m sick of being extorted every month into paying the nuclear tax or CWIP. Nuclear is too expensive and too dangerous. The Georgia Public Service Commission is a rubber stamp for a wealthy monopoly and does not protect the ratepayer.

Comment by Gloria Tatum on April 18, 2017 5:54 pm

It sickens me to think that the PSC thinks that we (rate payers) are idiots and can’t figure out how they screw us over each and every month. It’s high time we put someone in that office that actually cares about us! This needs to STOP, right here and now! No wonder not many of us can get ahead! It’s because the hard working people in this great state of Georgia work and live pay check to pay check, just barely keeping ourselves a float. We are taken advantage of by all public works departments. Fix this or we may boot everyone of you out of your positions of power!

Comment by Linda Kitchings Cordry on April 21, 2017 9:23 am

No more tax money for nuclear power. No more pacing my power bill!!

Comment by William R Spell Jr. on April 21, 2017 9:42 pm

The PSC needs to replaced​. They gave GPC everything they ask for. They aren’t looking out for the customers.

Comment by Ray Horton on April 21, 2017 11:32 pm

The plants need to be moved forward using a 50-50 split of costs between stockholders and the public. When completed, the energy costs to customers should be reduced to reflect the vast sums paid by those customers.

Comment by HGarfield on April 24, 2017 10:19 am

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