For the last three years, Pamela Crouse has spent the cold winter months living in her bedroom that's heated by a lone kerosene heater. In the summer, she "suffers." Thanks to utility bill increases, the 63-year-old Chatsworth, Ga., resident can't afford to heat — or, when it's hot, cool — her home. If the Public Service Commission, the state agency that determines how much you pay to heat your home and turn on your lights, grants Georgia Power its requested $1.1 billion rate hike, the chances of Crouse being able to live comfortably are even more unlikely to improve.
Crouse, who the AJC reports is on disability and works a part-time job two days a week, is a member of the AARP, the senior citizens' advocacy group that helped suggest a scaled-back rate hike to the PSC. Crouse filmed a video featuring the heater and blasting the rate-hike proposal, which the AARP posted it on its website and YouTube to raise awareness about the rate increase — one of the largest in the utility's history.
The PSC is expected to vote on the rate increase on Dec. 21. Like we discussed some months back, it's interesting how even the tiniest of tax increases can inspire a rally, while a billion-dollar rate hike doesn't generate a peep.
The Macon Democrat's a master orator who often employs visual aids in his speeches from the well — most notorious being perhaps one where heprojected a photo of then-Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson draped in a Confederate flag during a Savannah parade.
Turns out that flair can be found in his prose as well.
Brown today released an op-ed about one of his pet peeves: Georgia Power's planned rate increases to finance two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle. (The utility is currently asking the Public Service Commission to OK a $1.1 billion rate hike, which makes Brown's column even more timely.)
In the op-ed, Brown rips into Gold Dome Republicans who voted for the onerous Senate Bill 31, which allows the utility to start charging customers for the nuclear plant's new reactors before they're complete. The senator also reminds readers of the tactics Georgia Power — or as Brown calls the utility, a "two-faced, government-sanctioned monopoly" — used to pass the measure.
Throw in mentions of bleached-blond lobbyists, blind musicians, and talk of banishing Republican politicians to their homes for 130 years to learn the meaning of family values and you have an entertaining read that won't win Brown many lunches with utility lobbyists during next year's legislative session. (Bonus: He uses the word "ruffians.") We've pasted his entire op-ed after the jump.
Brown's expected to leave the Senate and run for Macon mayor. We hope whoever takes his seat and leader position has the same fire. Because Jesus, it's so entertaining and vital under the staid Gold Dome.
I don't think you guys would believe how long we've had these things in the works if I told you, but as it happens with major road projects, foreclosures, and website redesigns, sometimes the Ts and the Is don't get crossed or dotted until much after the fact.
They say there was a lot of "I feel Georgians' pain," "I'm not insolvent," and "this is a political attack" talk during the call aimed at easing supporters' worries about those recent news articles.
Nathan Deal, the former congressman who doesn't want you to harp on his Washington, D.C. career while he runs to become Georgia's next governor, is having some financial problems.
Today the Associated Press reports that Deal failed to disclose two corporate loans he and a business partner owe totaling $2.85 million. From the AP:
The loans from two banks were made to Deal and Kenneth Cronan in 2009. They do not appear on the financial disclosure Deal filed with the state Ethics Commission when he announced he was running for governor.
Deal, who hasn't said how he plans to pay back the $2.3 million loan when it comes due in February, has played up the whole affair like he's just one of the average Joes who's a victim of the economy and who wanted to help his kids. Roy Barnes, Deal's Democratic opponent and a former governor who's gone on to enjoy a lucrative legal career, has avoided specifically commenting on the GOP nominee's debt woes.
Veteran political reporter Tom Baxter probably put it best in a column yesterday (sub. req.):
"Are voters more likely to trust a candidate [like Barnes] who has prospered even in hard times, or another [like Deal] who has fallen prey to the sort of pitfalls they are all too familiar with? That’s one of the most intriguing questions for the days ahead."
Clarifications added. Considering that this is Georgia, this kind of ridiculousness will probably help Deal win an extra 30 percent of the vote.
Lemme get this straight: Atlanta Gas Light, which over the years has reportedly merged with other companies to create "efficiencies" yet never passed those savings on to the customer, is asking the Public Service Commission for the OK to hike customers' bills to the tune of $54 million.
In addition, the company wants ratepayers — some of whom don't even own stock in the utility — to pay for executive's bonuses if its stock performs well. One way that could happen is by successfully raising rates. OK, just checking.
The company wants to keep charging customers for non-existent costs, a request that accounts for $14.5 million — or 27 percent — of AGL’s rate hike request.
Commission staff experts also criticized AGL for including $3.2 million in executive performance bonuses in its request to raise costs.
The company is asking that ratepayers pay for bonuses pegged to its parent company’s stock performance. It would require customers to fund a reward based on management’s success in raising their rates, PSC staff said.
The PSC's regulatory staff, the AJC reports, thinks AGL should cut its rates, not hike them. Read the whole thing.
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