Georgia Power bills to increase

The average Georgia Power bill will increase about 44 cents a month starting in January, not decrease as many might have expected when the company announced last month its fuel costs had dropped.

The utility, which serves 2.4 million customers, notified state regulators in October that it would be applying for a residential rate reduction because the amount it pays for fuel has fallen 7 percent, saving $122 million. The utility cannot profit from lower fuel costs and must pass those savings on to customers.

The Georgia Public Service Commission is expected to approve that reduction, an average of about $1.82 a month, by the end of the year. But residential bills will actually rise to pay for the costs associated with new construction and energy efficiency programs, Georgia Power said Thursday.

About $1.05 of the typical residential bill will go toward paying for a new natural gas unit at Plant McDonough-Atkinson in Smyrna. That increase already was approved as part of a three-tiered rate hike set in 2010.

The second fee hike, about 36 cents, is to pay for Georgia Power’s energy efficiency programs, which are designed to help customers save energy and reduce their electricity bills..

The third increase is 85 cents. It is part of the $1.7 billion in financing costs that Georgia Power customers have been paying for two nuclear reactors in Waynesboro. The increase was originally projected to be $2.09, according to documents filed last year with the PSC.

Earlier this year, Georgia Power cut average monthly residential bills $8, also because of decreased fuel costs.

Before that, bills had risen about $14 a month over a two-year period as Georgia Power sought increases help pay for two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle and two natural gas units at Plant McDonough.

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