Georgia Power Co. (GPC) is proposing a significant rate hike that will charge Georgians an additional $16.29 per month on average, as well as a steep $200 interconnection fee for rooftop solar customers. Analysis from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) does not support the utility’s claim of cost-shifting to non-solar customers. Further, these new costs would be added to what’s already being characterized as a drastic overcharge of utility customers.
According to new joint testimony led by SEIA, for the last 11 years, GPC has been overcharging all utility customers, far exceeding the revenue level set by the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC).
“When utilities feel threatened by customers choosing solar and exercising their energy freedom, all ratepayers get squeezed,” said Kevin Lucas, SEIA’s senior director of utility regulation and policy and lead author of the joint testimony. “Georgia Power Company has been over-collecting from Georgian’s electric bills by an average of $26 annually over the last 11 years. These excessive charges add up to $1.87 billion in additional revenue for the utility at the expense of all Georgia residents and businesses. If that wasn’t enough, GPC is now asking state regulators to approve more rate hikes and rate structure changes that will penalize solar customers and eliminate choices for ratepayers to control their bills.”
Summary of findings
The joint testimony, submitted with Vote Solar and the Georgia Solar Energy Industries Association (GASEIA), features SEIA’s analysis and focuses on how the proposed rate changes are intended to confuse customers with demand charges that are difficult to understand and difficult for customers to manage.
The analysis shows that nearly all customers would have saved money on a different rate structure, but the PSC has not held any hearings to consider a more cost-effective structure.
SEIA’s analysis also shows that GPC’s over-collection charges peaked in 2020 and 2021 and led to nearly $500 million in additional revenue. This occurred as more than 131,000 GPC customers had their power disconnected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Georgia families are already feeling the strain of inflation, and Georgia Power’s rate hikes are both needless and exorbitant,” said Allison Kvien, Vote Solar’s Southeast Regulatory Director. “The Public Service Commission has an opportunity to protect the rights of ratepayers to choose solar for their homes of businesses. I urge them to rise to the occasion and prioritize energy freedom over the profit margins of monopoly utilities.”
“GASEIA supports SEIA’s testimony in this rate case and appreciates their continued support for the growth of solar in Georgia,” said Thatcher Young, GASEIA board member and vice president of business development at Velo Solar. “Further, GASEIA is asking the Commission to restore and expand monthly netting to assist Georgia Power customers in recouping their investment in these extraordinary economic times.”
The joint testimony urges the PSC to reject GPC’s proposed $200 interconnection fee for solar customers. The testimony also urges the PSC to strengthen its oversight of utilities to prevent over-collection from ratepayers and empower customer choice.