Garden City residents concerned about possible rate hike on monthly GA Power bill

Garden City residents concerned about possible rate hike on monthly GA Power bill

CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Many people are facing a rate hike on their monthly power bill, and it could happen soon.

Georgia Power asked the Georgia Public Service Commission for permission to increase its prices. Monday, the commission had a meeting to hear from the public.

Georgia Power is asking to raise customer rates by a little more than seven percent, starting next year. The fixed base service charge would go from $10 a month to $18 a month, and 1,000 kilowatt hours would cost customers $10 more a month.

During the meeting, Georgia Representative Carl Gilliard asked the vice chairman of the Georgia Public Service Commission to talk to residents in Garden City who are concerned about the likely rate hike on the horizon.

“That’s one of the things that I’m really concerned about. Ten or $15 a month addition on an electric bill means a lot to somebody who can’t pay the bill they’re paying now," said Mayor Don Bethune, Garden City.

Georgia Public Service Commission Vice Chairman Tim Echols says the costs of providing power is going up. With costly tropical storms hitting more parts of the state in recent years, and a removal of coal ash from coal-powered plants, Echols says those costs get passed along to the customer, but he’s still considering the best way for that to happen.

“I haven’t made up my mind yet precisely how we need to do it - whether we need to bump up that base rate that’s embedded, or whether we need to just leave it where it’s at and raise the kilowatt hour price. Either way though, bills will go up," Echols said.

However, there are ways to help off-set the rate increase. Echols says the convenience fee for people who pay in stores like Walmart, Dollar General and Kroger - which is $1.50 a payment - will go away with the rate hike. He also suggested that customers, especially those on a fixed or limited income, have an energy audit at their home.

“I really enjoyed the information about the energy assessments, because all of us can do better and do a better job at making sure that we’re being more energy conservative," said Tom McBeth, Executive Director, Economic Opportunity Authority.

The PSC will vote on Dec. 4 to decide exactly how the rate hike will be paid.

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