This week Augusta radio talk show host Austin Rhodes of WGAC was heard being dismissive of the 7% increase in homeowner electric utility bills over the past five years from the controversial Georgia Senate Bill 31, which passed in 2009 with help from Senator Hardie Davis. SB 31 was heatedly debated because the bill guaranteed Georgia Power a separate 11.5% return on two new nuclear reactor units being constructed at Plant Vogtle on the Savannah River in Burke County, giving opportunity for all manner of cost-shifting hanky-panky. The law also came under fire for paying advance profits of over $1 billion over and above the costs of building the units. The Georgia Public Service Commission, who had the staff to evaluate the technical parts of the bill and who actually has the rate setting authority in the state, was bypassed by the legislature, prompted and cheered on by a flock of as many as 70 lobbyists clogging the aisles. Finally, the legislation exempted industry from the onerous special rate increases, meaning that the full burden falls on small businesses and residential payers.
Augusta’s Senator Hardie Davis was hardly alone in focusing on the jobs created for several thousand workers, many of them temporary construction craftsmen, while disregarding the costs to the millions of Georgians of the burgeoning rates.
Let’s take a look at the effects of SB 31 so far on a residential power bill. On top of the SB 31 costs, one must also add the additional 1% TIA 2010 or TSPLOST tax that Hardie also voted for. The Hardie Tax and Rate Increase Total is nearly 13%.
Now consider how much the wages to cover that 7% increase have increased since 2009 to the latest available in 2012. WHOA! The average Georgian has actually lost almost another percent because of wage reductions. (Now to be honest, the TSPLOST tax did not come in until 2013, but it certainly is in the mix now.)
The Hardie cost increases are compounding every year against falling wages and salaries.
To conclude, that is a power play Augustans cannot afford.
All the confirmation Austin and everyone else should need was said by fellow WGAC show host Clark Howard in the clip below.
Hardie Davis is Georgia Power’s best friend. Can Augusta afford him as its mayor with such disregard for the people?
(Editor’s Note: The above clip is included here under the terms of FAIR USE for journalistic and educational purposes. As part of the public record, this material is not available through non-archive means, and is hereby presented for the public good.)