Government Affairs End of Year Report by Phyllis Richardson

This year was filled with lots of highs and lows and it was a very busy legislative year!

We attended and spoke at hearings held at the Public Service Commission “PSC” to speak to the Georgia Power Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and the proposed fee increase to extract an additional $2.2 billion from its customers over the next few years putting families at risk of having their lights shut off. In addition to charging more for electricity, the utility wanted to raise its mandatory monthly fixed rate that must be paid regardless of how much electricity is used. Georgia Power already charges residential customers a $10 monthly fixed charge before using any electricity. Recently, the Public Service Commission rejected Georgia Power’s original proposal to increase the fixed fees from $10 per month to $17.95 per month on customers’ monthly bills but instead approved a $4 overall increase.  The first $2 increase will be applied in 2021 and another $2 increase in applied in 2022. This rate hike disproportionately hurt folks who use the least energy and are least able to afford higher power bills. It also punishes those who seek to reduce their electricity usage by increasing their bills regardless of the amount of power they use. 

Georgia WAND spoke out at a public hearing against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed approval of Georgia’s Coal Ash Permit Program. The EPA is proposing to approve Georgia’s permit program for the disposal of coal combustion residuals – commonly known as coal ash – from certain coal-fired power plants. EPA encourages other states to follow Georgia’s lead and assume oversight of coal ash management within their borders. In June, the EPA took the first step in the process of making a determination of whether to approve Georgia’s CCR permit program by notifying Georgia that their application was complete and that the formal process of soliciting public comment and making a final determination on whether to approve Georgia’s CCR permit program will begin. They have preliminarily determined that the states CCR state permit program meets the standard for approval. EPA is proposing to approve the application submitted by Georgia EPD to allow their permit program to operate in lieu of the federal CCR program. However, there are specific provisions of the federal CCR program that the state is not seeking approval for. 

We introduced our first two resolutions centering Nuclear Harm Reduction in both chambers of the Georgia State Assembly. House Resolution 379 and Senate Resolution 243 No First Use policy, we had over 15 legislators stand in support at the Well as Rep. Becky Evans read HR 243 into the record in the House of Representative Chamber.  

We supported our coalition partners in the fight againt bills such as HB 481- Six Week Abortion Ban AKA the Heartbeat Bill, SB 173 – School Vouchers, HB 316 – Ballot Marking Devices and Medicaid Wavers.

For more information, please send an email to Phyllis Richardson at Phyllis@GeorgiaWAND.org.