24 Jun, 2022, 07:01 ET
Company looks to invest nearly $7 billion in transmission, distribution over the next three years
Investments support transition away from coal, doubling renewable and solar energy generation
ATLANTA, June 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Power today filed a request with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) that would enable the company to continue making investments in strengthening and further securing the electric grid, transforming its power generation to include cleaner and more economical energy resources and continue improving the customer experience.
"We take our responsibility to plan, prepare and make the investments needed to meet our customers' energy needs today, tomorrow and for years to come seriously, and Georgia Power's request to the Georgia Public Service Commission today outlines and supports that focus," said Chris Womack, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. "As our state continues to grow and the energy landscape rapidly evolves, we recognize and respect our customers' focus on the reliability and resiliency of Georgia's electric system, the expansion of our clean energy resources and Georgia Power's continued ability to safely and reliably meet their energy needs. This request reinforces our commitment to meeting those needs while continuing to provide clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy for generations of Georgians."
The request supports Georgia Power's focus on the following:
- Strengthening the electric grid through investments in the company's transmission and distribution systems and the continuation of its Grid Investment Plan (GIP) to support customers' long-term reliability and resiliency needs. Many of these investments are required to protect the reliability and resiliency of our electric grid.
- Transforming how it makes energy, including the continued transition of the company's power generation to cleaner and more economical resources for customers, including renewables such as solar.
- Enhancing operations and improving customer experience through investments in technology that will help enable Georgia Power to continue delivering exceptional service to customers while meeting their evolving energy needs.
If approved, customer rates would increase a total of just under 12% over the next three years, which is lower than the current projected rate of inflation. As outlined in the filing, the typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatthours per month would see an increase of $14.32 per month on their bill in 2023, $1.35 per month in 2024 and $0.62 per month in 2025, for a total increase of $16.29 over the three-year period. The company has helped offset the rising cost of doing business through reduced operating costs, managing storm cost recovery and making smart financing decisions.
Strengthening the Electric Grid
Georgia Power is continuously investing in the power grid to make it smarter and more reliable, and today's filing looks to continue those efforts. The company is seeking to build upon its ongoing investments in its transmission and distribution system to further provide safe, reliable and secure electric service to its customers. Over the next three years, the company expects to invest nearly $7 billion more in transmission and distribution improvements, including $2.2 billion in the company's on-going multi-year GIP.
Over the last ten years, Georgia Power has invested nearly $10 billion to strengthen the reliability and resiliency of its network for the benefit of the communities and people it serves. This amount includes approximately $4.9 billion invested in transmission and distribution infrastructure since January 2020 and projected through December 2022, of which $1.5 billion relates to the company's GIP. Examples of critical investments the company has made and look to continue include:
- deploying advanced control and monitoring technologies, including additional self-healing distribution networks, to enhance the company's ability to sectionalize parts of the electric grid to isolate issues and reroute power to serve customers;
- replacing framing hardware to improve insulation levels and protect equipment; and
- enhancing substations, replacing transformers and moving powerlines underground.
These investments have improved reliability, reduced both the number and duration of outages, minimized repair time and contributed to a better customer experience. The investments proposed in this request are a continuation of these enhancements that have increased reliability.
Investing in Renewables and Cleaner Energy Resources
As presented in the company's 2022 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) filed earlier this year, Georgia Power is looking to continue transforming how it produces energy, transitioning its power generation fleet to more economical and cleaner generation resources that will produce significant, long-term benefits for customers. The company is deploying new and expanded resources in solar, wind, hydro and energy storage to continue reducing carbon emission. This rate request would support that transformation and the proposed retirement of approximately 3,600 megawatts (MW) of coal- and oil-fired generation by 2028, replacing it with more economical generation and supporting investment in the transmission infrastructure necessary to facilitate the continued growth of renewables and to provide customers access to these lower cost and lower-carbon emitting resources.
To support the transition, Georgia Power will continue serving customers with a diverse, balanced generation fleet of reliable, resilient and economical resources, which includes adding cost-effective renewable resources. Working within the state's constructive regulatory framework, Georgia Power has continued developing renewable resources in a way that benefits customers, positioning the company as a national leader in renewable energy growth. Georgia Power currently has one of the largest voluntary renewable portfolios in the country, with more than 3,100 MW of renewable resources already online and an additional 2,400 MW under development. The company is also planning to double its renewable generation by adding 6,000 MW by 2035, which includes a request for approval of 2,300 MW* in its 2022 IRP. This new capacity would expand the company's renewable resource portfolio to approximately 11,500 MW by 2035.
The addition of these renewable resources and the retirement of uneconomic coal- and oil-fired units will enable Georgia Power to continue to operate its generation fleet efficiently, reliably and affordably for customers. To read more about Georgia Power's energy plans for the future, visit www.GeorgiaPower.com/IRP.
Enhancing the Customer Experience
Georgia Power is focused on continuously improving for the benefit of customers, including enhancing how customers can communicate with the company, pay their bills and manage their energy usage. In response to customers' changing preferences, the company has enhanced customer communications and provided additional and more flexible payment options, enrolling nearly 500,000 customers in outage alerts, eliminating credit and debit card payments fees, increasing the number of Authorized Payment Locations across the state, extending the bill payment timeframe by five days and more.
Over the next three years, Georgia Power will continue this focus and plans to invest nearly $700 million in technologies that will enhance operations and benefit customers. These include:
- Customer Information System (CIS) – Implementation of a new CIS will integrate customer information into a single platform that enables customer service employees to quickly access customer information, thereby allowing them to provide customers with more comprehensive and timely solutions.
- Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) – DERMS is an integrated software resource platform that offers real-time visibility into the impact of distributed energy resources on the electric system and allows for enhanced monitoring and operational capabilities. A robust DERMS platform will enable Georgia Power to integrate distributed energy resources with both system and fleet operations.
- Technologies to support the continued electrification of transportation – Over the next three years, Georgia Power will increase investments in community electric vehicle (EV) charging facilities and necessary electric transportation infrastructure upgrades to support customer EV charging. In addition to these capital infrastructure upgrades, the rate request continues various rebates for homebuilders and residential and commercial customers to accommodate growth in EV charging across the state.
Additionally, the company is working on developing a new, enhanced mobile app that will simplify mobile transactions, provide direct communications with customers impacted by service outages and notify customers regarding company offerings for which they qualify. Georgia Power is also developing a virtual platform that will help customers by answering general questions and processing a variety of customer transactions and plans to release a digital wallet option later this year, which will allow customers to make payments conveniently from their mobile devices and more.
Georgia Power has a long-standing history of assisting income-qualified customers with programs and resources to aid them in lowering and paying their bills, and those will continue in this rate request. Program details are available at www.GeorgiaPower.com/EnergyAssistance, including details on:
- Senior citizen discount – Georgia Power offers a senior citizen discount of up to $24 per bill to customers 65 years of age or older who qualify based on their income. In this rate request, the company is proposing to increase this discount by $2.27 in its filing for a total discount of up to $26.27 per bill.
- Project SHARE – In partnership with the Salvation Army, customers can donate $1, $2, $5, or $10 on their monthly bill to support their neighbors in need. Georgia Power matches each dollar donated with $1.50 up to a total match of $1.5 million annually. Since its inception in 1986, Georgia Power and its customers have donated more than $72 million to the program.
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) – Georgia Power supports the Division of Family & Children Services through LIHEAP, which is available every year from November to May, and helps low-income households pay for heating and cooling their homes.
- Home Energy Efficiency Assistance Program (HEEAP) – Income-qualified Georgia Power customers may be eligible for free, energy-efficiency home improvements. From improved attic insulation to smart thermostats that can help manage their home's temperature, these type of home improvements can help qualified customers save energy and reduce their bills.
Additionally, the company offers a variety of flexible and customizable rate plans and payment options to help manage electric bills. Being on the most economical rate plan for a customer's use is one of the most effective ways to keep energy costs low. Customers can explore Georgia Power rate plans and billing options on www.GeorgiaPower.com, including:
- FlatBill® –This plan offers a 12-month fixed price that will not vary as usage does – eliminating surprises and preventing higher bills during the summer and other peak usage months.
- PrePay – Customers can take control of when and how much they pay with PrePay. This program provides customers with more flexibility to manage their budget and energy use, while also enjoying the benefits of no deposit requirement, credit check, or reconnect fees.
- Budget Billing – Offered to Georgia Power customers to reduce large fluctuations in their bill due to seasonal peaks, Budget Billing spreads a customer's total annual electric costs over 12 equal monthly payments.
Rate Case Process
Today's filing initiates a series of additional filings and public hearings with the Georgia PSC. At the conclusion of this open and transparent process, the Georgia PSC is expected to vote on the company's rate case in December. The request seeks to continue the investments approved in Georgia Power's 2019 Rate Case, so that the company can continue to deliver clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy to customers. If approved, the proposed rates would take effect beginning January 1, 2023.
* REC Disclaimer: Georgia Power purchases only the null energy output from some renewable generating facilities that have contracted to sell that energy to Georgia Power. Ownership of the associated renewable energy credits (RECs) is specified in each respective power purchase agreement. The party that owns the RECs retains the right to use them.
About Georgia Power
Georgia Power is the largest electric subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), America's premier energy company. Value, Reliability, Customer Service and Stewardship are the cornerstones of the company's promise to 2.7 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties. Committed to delivering clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy at rates below the national average, Georgia Power maintains a diverse, innovative generation mix that includes nuclear, coal and natural gas, as well as renewables such as solar, hydroelectric and wind. Georgia Power focuses on delivering world-class service to its customers every day and the company is recognized by J.D. Power as an industry leader in customer satisfaction. For more information, visit www.GeorgiaPower.com and connect with the company on Facebook (Facebook.com/Georgia Power), Twitter (Twitter.com/GeorgiaPower) and Instagram (Instagram.com/ga_power).
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Certain information contained in this release is forward-looking information based on current expectations and plans that involve risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking information includes, among other things, statements concerning the 2022 Rate Request, including expected impacts to customer rates, projected renewable generation and future capital expenditures. Georgia Power cautions that there are certain factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of Georgia Power; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such suggested results will be realized. The following factors, in addition to those discussed in Georgia Power's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021 and subsequent securities filings could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: state and federal rate regulations and the impact of pending and future rate cases and negotiations, including rate actions relating to fuel and other cost recovery mechanisms and the 2022 Base Rate Case; the impact of recent and future federal and state regulatory changes, including tax, environmental, and other laws and regulations to which Georgia Power is subject, as well as changes in application of existing laws and regulations; the extent and timing of costs and legal requirements related to coal combustion residuals; current and future litigation or regulatory investigations, proceedings or inquiries; the effects, extent and timing of the entry of additional competition in the markets in which Georgia Power operates, including from the development and deployment of alternative energy sources; variations in demand for electricity; available sources and costs of fuels; effects of inflation; the ability to control costs and avoid cost and schedule overruns during the development, construction and operation of facilities, to construct facilities in accordance with the requirements of permits and licenses (including satisfaction of Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirements), to satisfy any environmental performance standards and the requirements of tax credits and other incentives, and to integrate facilities into the Southern Company system upon completion of construction; investment performance of the employee and retiree benefit plans and the nuclear decommissioning trust funds; advances in technology, including the pace and extent of development of low- to no-carbon energy technologies and negative carbon concepts; the ability to successfully operate Georgia Power's generating, transmission and distribution facilities and the successful performance of necessary corporate functions; the inherent risks involved in operating and constructing nuclear generating facilities; the ability of counterparties of Georgia Power to make payments as and when due and to perform as required; the direct or indirect effect on Georgia Power's business resulting from cyber intrusion or physical attacks and the threat of physical attacks; interest rate fluctuations and financial market conditions and the results of financing efforts; access to capital markets and other financing sources; changes in Georgia Power's credit ratings; the ability of Georgia Power to obtain additional generating capacity (or sell excess generating capacity) at competitive prices; catastrophic events such as fires, earthquakes, explosions, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and other storms, droughts, pandemic health events, political unrest, wars, or other similar occurrences; the direct or indirect effects on Georgia Power's business resulting from incidents affecting the U.S. electric grid or operation of generating resources; and the effect of accounting pronouncements issued periodically by standard setting bodies. Georgia Power expressly disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking information.
SOURCE Georgia Power
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