Dear <<First Name>>,

I want to share three energy news items that are pretty big in terms of their impacts on you.

  1. Georgia Power filed yet another rate increase. Last week Georgia Power filed a request for recovery of fossil fuel gas (natural gas) cost overruns. U.S. prices for natural gas increased a stunning 165.5% over 2021 for the year ended June 2022. Ga Power uses fossil gas to produce about 45% of its electricity generation. Thus, when gas prices go up our electric bills go up. If granted, this will increase the average Ga Power bill another $20/month.

One thing to note: last summer the Ga PSC approved six new natural gas PPAs (power purchase agreements) for fossil gas totaling 2,300 megawatts as part of Ga Power’s 10-year energy plan. Burning more fossil fuels is completely inappropriate in this era of accelerating climate change as this video explains. It’s not a bridge to clean energy - it’s a path to climate change disaster.

Why we need to ditch natural gas (asap)

Besides that, adding more gas generation is inappropriate because Ga Power generating capacity is 30% overbuilt even before Plant Vogtle comes online. Approving more gas when billions of dollars in fuel cost overruns were known and cheaper solutions were available (if more generation is needed, which it’s not) is a pretty great example of the Ga PSC not protecting consumers from monopoly overreach.

Ga Power did not seek fuel cost recovery last year because they didn’t want public backlash against their desire to add 2,300 MW of gas to their portfolio, since burdening customers by expanding a volatile and expensive energy source buffeted by geopolitical issues would not be popular. So Ga Power avoided this risk by deferring cost recovery. Thus, the 10 year long range plan with new fossil gas was approved last July as they wanted, and a $2 billion rate increase was approved last December as they wanted, and now the coast is clear for this $2 billion filing.

Is this appalling? Yes it is.

  1. On Monday criticality was reached for unit 3 of Plant Vogtle. A reactor achieves criticality when the nuclear fission reaction becomes self-sustaining.

This milestone is being celebrated by nuclear advocates across the country who pretend to care about climate change. Georgia Power and the Ga PSC do that too. But the truth is that nuclear boosters are doing nothing about climate change. They’re what I call “nuclear bros” (some women too). But who cares what they think? Well, I do – it deeply bothers me that people in other states are happy about Georgia building large scale nuclear. If this is such a good solution for climate change than why aren’t you lobbying your state commissions to build nuclear? Why is Minnesota and California or any of the 30 other states that have carbon emissions reductions goals not building nuclear? What’s that? They can meet their goals with less expensive solutions? Riiiiiight.

As for Ga Power & the Ga PSC, the pretense of caring about carbon free electricity is the only argument they have for building Plant Vogtle. There is literally nothing else. The $10 billion in cost overruns and the $1000 every Ga Power customer has paid from bill increases with nothing to show for it and the 7-year delivery window miss – wait, look over here: it’s carbon free energy! The dog whistles are loud. Aren’t dogs cute?

This is nothing to celebrate. It’s time for accountability. Every commissioner needs to lose their job.

Even now Ga Power is lining up more expensive construction projects so they can deliver ever increasing profits to shareholders. And what a year they had: Southern Company earned $3.5 billion in profits in 2022 thanks to Plant Vogtle and state commissions granting rate increases. Pay no attention to the energy poverty and the 25,000 Ga Power customers disconnected monthly, the majority of whom are Black people - look at Ga Power’s great diversity, equity & inclusion work! (that you pay for too).

Building big expensive things for profit is a model that is hard to watch from the inside, knowing that the energy is not needed and knowing the harm that’s being done to Georgia families. I cannot tolerate the nuclear bros. glee. I release my frustrations with Twitter battles when I have time. I feel better - otherwise it has nowhere to go. It’s important that people outside of Georgia understand the costs of nuclear aren’t intangible - that $35 billion is real money that we’re paying.

Follow me on Twitter for battle skirmishes.

Here is an excellent opinion piece by a colleague that explains the incentive for Ga Power to build expensive projects and what can be done to stop it.

As someone in the public eye, I am often given tips from energy people who are frustrated and think or hope that I can do something about it. I feel like an investigative reporter sometimes.

Last month I received a tip from someone who is knowledgeable in the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design. I became alarmed at what my tipster had to say and ended up submitting a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Monday asking them to stop quickly granting licensing exceptions to the design of the reactor and to do a thorough review to determine the reasons for the exception requests before the reactor reached criticality.

The letter was too late by a couple of hours: news that criticality was reached had just been released. All we can do now is hope that NRC inspectors and Southern Nuclear officials have done enough to protect the public from the risks of this plant. We know they haven’t done enough to protect the public from the costs of this plant: but please, let them have done enough to protect us from the risks.

To see my letter click the box below and enter comment Tracking Number lex-8jzy-mz41. It must be approved first and is not online yet.

  1. Legislation to expand rooftop solar in Georgia did not make crossover day. Crossover day means that bills must have passed one of the chambers in Georgia to be eligible for passage. Since the Ga PSC will not expand rooftop solar through net metering, solar advocates had hoped the legislature would act. They didn’t.

I find it bizarre that the issue of rooftop solar, something of such importance for climate change and consumer empowerment is being left to the solar industry to make happen. Why is the 14th sunniest state in the nation in 46th place for rooftop solar? Where is the environmental coalition and the loud public voices demanding elected officials really put “all of the above” on the table instead of picking winners and losers and claiming they aren’t? Where is the demand for decisive action on climate change – that by necessity must include rooftop solar?

Until commissioners get defeated by voters the Ga PSC will not change. Don’t worry - this will all get sorted out when my colleague Shelia Edwards and I are on the commission. There are two seats up for election this year and one next year. If Shelia and I get these two seats and help defeat the commission chair next year, we WILL see meaningful change.

We are running a joint campaign - I am not sure of messaging but maybe something like, “elect two ladies to replace two men who are Ga Power shills. We work for you. We do not answer to Ga Power.” “We will never vote for a rate increase. Ga Power has enough of your money.” If you have ideas let me know. Click on the image below for her website.

Shelia and I are still waiting for a court ruling and after that an election date will be scheduled but it’s looking likely to be a special election on September 19th.

Shelia had a great radio ad last year that helped her win the primary. “Have you fallen out of love with your electric bill? If so vote for me: Shelia E for PSC.” Very catchy!

Thanks for reading and being a supporter. Change is needed, and with your help it will happen!