Consumer Energy Program

In a series of cases before the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to monitor the cost of constructing two new nuclear units at Plant Vogtle, Georgia Watch is working to protect consumers. A legal dispute between Georgia Power and its Plant Vogtle contractors over cost overruns from project design issues and schedule delays could end up costing Georgia Power ratepayers $400 million or more! In a brief filed at the Commission on August 3, 2012, Georgia Watch once again called on Commissioners to approve a risk sharing mechanism as a means of protecting ratepayers.

Currently, the entire cost of overruns is unfairly borne by ratepayers alone. Southern Company shareholders, who own Georgia Power, have no skin in the game! Through a risk-sharing mechanism, the Company’s investors and ratepayers would equitably share in any cost overruns incurred related to Georgia Power’s $6.1 billion ownership interest in the project. Such a mechanism clearly would provide Georgia Power with a strong incentive to manage the project efficiently in order to keep costs down.

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Created in January 2009, the Consumer Energy Program (CEP) is a passionate advocate on behalf of Georgia’s residential and small business customers in energy-related matters at the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Capitol.

We stand up for lower utility rates and cleaner, more efficient energy solutions.

Over the last two years, the Consumer Energy Program has:

  • Pushed for $7 million of aid to assist Georgians with winter heating bills
  • Opposed Georgia Power’s massive $2.1 billion rate increase in 2010 on behalf of its 2.4 million customer
  • Challenged Atlanta Gas Light’s $54 million rate request in 2010 on behalf of its 1.5 million customers
  • Built a broad coalition of business groups and advocacy organizations across the state to oppose utility rate increases in 2010
  • Sponsored expert witness testimony and formally intervened in PSC proceedings to represent ratepayer interests
  • Advocated for greater transparency and accountability at electric membership corporations on behalf of the state’s 4.5 million EMC customers
  • Fought against legislation to require ratepayers to pre-pay at least $1.6 billion of financing charges and taxes for nuclear plant construction by Georgia Power, resulting in $1 billion of early profits for the company
For decades, the Consumers’ Utility Counsel (CUC), a division of the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs, represented Georgians in cases before the PSC. However, that voice for residential and small business owners was silenced when the CUC was defunded in 2008. As a result, Georgians were left without representation in PSC matters.With skyrocketing energy bills and the interests of utilities as firmly entrenched across the state as ever, the Consumer Energy Program serves a vital role in protecting ratepayers in important cases at the PSC.

The Consumer Energy Program will continue to advocate for lower utility bills and a more diversified state energy portfolio to mitigate future rate increases.

Low-income and senior Georgians who aren’t able to pay their heating bills were given a $10 million boost from state utility regulators this week when the Public Service Commission approved the use of emergency funds to ensure that families and individuals don’t go cold this winter.

Starting in December, these emergency assistance funds will be used to assist with heating bills as well as reconnect heat for those who have had their heat turned off within the last 45 days. The $10 million is coming from the universal service fund that Atlanta Gas Light usually utilizes to extend natural gas pipelines to where new homes and businesses are being built. Money for the fund comes from AGL’s industrial customers and its wholesale services unit, Sequent Energy Management. Learn more about the program and how you can apply for this help.