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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Report: Proposed coal plant could hike up energy bills

A consumer advocacy group says a controversial coal power plant proposed near Sandersville by several electric-membership cooperatives could cause ratepayers' electric bills to increase anywhere between $165 to $240.

"If the proposed plant is built, rate increases will no longer be modest," says the report, which was conducted by TR Associates and released by Georgia Watch. "The plant will also cause long-term financial headaches for the electric membership cooperative (EMC's) and others who sign on to purchase power from Plant Washington."

* During the first year of operation, the average electric rate increase would be 16 percent, eight times higher than what consumers might normally expect.
* In actual dollars (for an average household using 1000 kWh per month) this is an average additional cost of $208.00 to the household budget annually. Depending upon where consumers live, the annual increase would range from $165 to $240.
* During the early years of Plant Washington’s coal-fired operation consumers can expect at least an additional $50.00 annual charge to pay for the cost of new carbon regulations.
* Considering the full impact of future energy regulation, the costs of Plant Washington could raise annual prices by an estimated $258 per year for the average household.

And if the plant weren't constructed, as environmentalists have urged? Electricity bills would increase only 2 percent.

A spokesman for Power4Georgians, the firm pushing the project, told the Atlanta Business Chronicle the firm is confident about the project:

Dean Alford said if the consortium’s numbers don’t hold up, the project won’t qualify for financing and, thus, won’t get built.

“Before anyone loans anybody $2.1 billion, they’re going to do their due diligence on the need for the plant and if the cost is viable,” he said.

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