There's a new argument floating around against Senate Bill 31, which would allow Georgia Power to charge customers more to offset the cost of expanding it's nuclear facilities near Augusta.
Namely: The state can't afford it. The state of Georgia is one of Georgia Power's biggest customers, and it's not clear how much its power bills would get jacked up if this measure passes.
A lot of bills like this would have a fiscal note attached to them, which tells legislators how a bill would affect the state's bottom line. This one does not, and apparently the issue was raised relatively late in the process.
"We would have considered (the lack of a fiscal note) had it been timely raised," Regulated Industries and Utilities Chairman and state Sen. David Shafer said this morning.
State Sen. Don Balfour is the measure's sponsor, and he noted the bill would save the state — and other customers — money over the long haul. That's been a major argument for the bill: That it will be cheaper to all of Georgia Power's customers if the company can raise the money it needs to fund construction up front, rather than having to cover higher interest costs by waiting until the plant is under construction to increase rates, as the law now allows.
CORRECTION: I need to double check, but I believe I was wrong on this. The rules currently allow the company to raise the rates once the new power stations are in service, not simply under construction.
This has been the main argument against it.
Balfour notes that there will be no impact on the state budget for the next three years, then the extra fee would kick in, costing the state more for a few years. Then the benefit of paying for the work up front would have a positive effect on the state budget, he said.
"There's a huge amount of positives and there's not a lot of negative," he said.