Want to pay an extra $258 per year for Plant Washington coal power?

Guest Blog | July 1, 2011 | Coal, Energy Policy

Me neither.

Unfortunately for ratepayers, a report published by consumer advocate Georgia Watch on June 22 suggests that customers of Power4Georgians member EMCs (Cobb, Central Georgia, Snapping Shoals, Upson and Washington EMC) could see their electric rates jump 10-20% when the proposed coal-fired Plant Washington comes online. The report, which only includes the impact of Plant Washington and not the second proposed plant, Ben Hill, underscores the concerns about cost we’ve previously discussed here.

Power4Georgians Plant Washington Coal-Fired Power Plant: Too High a Price for Consumers demonstrates that:
•    During the first year of the plant’s 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.

The report’s author, Tom Sanzillo of T. R. Rose Associates, used a wide variety of government and market data, stock analyst reports, and comparisons to other plants to prepare the report. In the report he points out that:

Power4Georgians…has offered no publicly available, up-to-date comprehensive financial model of Plant Washington…. This report provides several examples of developers, at various stages of the process that have provided the public with comprehensive information and frequent updates. Such information is usually provided by professional experts and [is] independently verifiable. P4G’s lack of/unwillingness to provide similar information stands in stark contrast to other plant developers’ efforts toward transparency.

Here at SACE we’re still wondering what “secret sauce” makes this plant different from the 153 coal plant proposals that have been canceled since 2007. Could it be personal pork for the project developers?

We continue to have significant doubts about Plant Washington’s viability in light of lower demands and likely cleaner, lower-cost options. In particular, SACE believes that there are great opportunities for energy efficiency in Georgia that have not been fully exploited. Ongoing changes in the energy market around natural gas and clean, renewable energy further call this plant into question.

Please stay tuned as we continue to work for the information EMC customer-owners deserve about Plants Washington and Ben Hill.

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