Friday, May 29, 2009

Georgia Power CEO's interview with Georgia Trend

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 6:05 PM

click to enlarge "Hi, I'm one of the most powerful guys in Georgia. Who are you?"
  • "Hi, I'm one of the most powerful guys in Georgia. Who are you?"

Georgia Trend magazine this month bestowed Georgia Power CEO Mike Garrett with the title "Most Respected Georgia Businessman."

You think it'd be a fluff piece. But Garrett's profile — which in the print edition is bordered by sycophantic ads hilariously congratulating the CORPORATE TITAN for this monumental achievement — is actually eye-opening.

Georgia Trend editor Susan Percy provides some additional details on the utility's strong-arm effort to pass Senate Bill 31 during the most recent legislative session. That bill, which was recently signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue, allows Georgia Power to charge ratepayers in advance for the financing costs on two new proposed reactors at Plant Vogtle. It was widely lambasted. But bad ideas under the Gold Dome have a way of growing legs and becoming law.

Percy's one of the first journalists we've seen to ask Garrett on the record about the controversial legislation — as well as the steamrollin' way the bill was shoved down lawmakers' throats.

Garrett said he wasn't worried that the bill strained the company's relationship with the Georgia Public Service Commission, the quasi-judicial state agency that decides how much you pay to turn on your lights and heat your oven.

From the article:

Nor is [Garrett] worried about his company’s relationship with the PSC – he believes a majority of the five-member commission favored the legislation.

“Quite frankly, we would have been crazy to go to the legislature without having first made sure the commissioners were comfortable with that position. The last thing we need is to have a commissioner over there testifying that this is not the right thing to do. I wouldn’t dare speak for them, but I’ll tell you all of them – well, I wouldn’t say all of them, but the majority of them – clearly see the value of construction work in progress [financing] and the value not only to customers, but to the credit rating of the company. They have to keep us healthy, otherwise it costs us more to do business.”

PSC Chairman Doug Everett has heard the criticism, but didn’t take umbrage at Georgia Power’s push for legislation. “I knew what they were trying to do,” he says. “That law gave them stability, because it referred to all plants,” not just the Vogtle expansion, “so they didn’t have to come back and do it again.” Of his own vote to approve the company’s request to build the new reactors, Everett says, “Nuclear power is the cleanest, the cheapest and the safest kind of power that we have. For me, it was a very easy call.”

Judging by some commissioners' recent actions — the "Bubba" bill and Stan Wise's nuclear energy drumbeating are just two examples — we really doubt Garrett's losing any sleep about his company's relationship with the agency.

(Courtesy Georgia Power)

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