‘We don’t have room for extras’ Listening session held on proposed rate hike from Georgia Power

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Georgia Power is proposing a rate hike that has a lot of Savannah customers upset.

There was a meeting held Wednesday where customers voiced their concerns to two-state regulators who will vote on the rate increase.

Georgia Power said the extra money is needed for storm restoration and making improvements to the state electrical system, but customers said the hike will hurt families with fixed incomes the most, regardless of their energy use.

“We’re people, we don’t have room for extras,” said Yolanda Alston, who attended the meeting in hopes of getting some answers.

Alston like many others who attended the listening session is an average Georgia Power customer.

She uses about 1000 kilowatt-hours, costing her about 125 dollars a month.

If commissioners vote in favor of the hike, customers like Alston will be paying about 24 dollars more a month on their bill by 2022.

“Very detrimental to our livelihood on a daily basis,” said Alston. “Having children and school, being able to provide and still having lights.”

It is concerns like these that brought Public Service Commissioners Tim Echols and Tricia Pridemore to Savannah from their offices in Atlanta.

But, they say they aren’t here to solve problems.

“We are here to listen, folks who are concerned about the way the increase is going to be implemented,” said Echols. “There will be an increase, the power company is going to get additional money because the storm fund is depleted.”

Georgia Power’s most recent base rate increase took effect in 2016 after being approved three years prior.

Since then, the company has responded to three major weather events, Echols said the company needs money to bounce back.

“What we are talking about here is essentially replenishing a storm fund, there have been hurricanes that came through Savannah multiple times and folks know the damage that they do,” said Echols.

Company spokesman John Kraft said the extra 2.2 billion generated would also help strengthen the state electrical system.

Still, not everyone is convinced it’s the best option.

“They have not given us a compelling reason why they should and we are giving them a compelling reason why they should not,” said Dr. Mildred McClain, Executive Director of Harambe House, the group that organized the listening session. “We cannot afford it, we just can’t.”

The next public hearing about the base rate increase will take place on November 4th in Atlanta. McClain, who also represents the Partnership for Southern Equity, is planning demonstrations around the hearings.

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