A political group founded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch wants Georgia’s utility regulators to reject a plan requiring Southern Co. to buy more solar energy, but an Associated Press review ahead of a vote on the issue finds that it has used misleading figures to build its case.
The Georgia chapter of Americans For Prosperity has said in mass emails and on Twitter that a proposal requiring Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power to buy more solar energy could raise energy bills by 40 percent.
Solar power has historically been pricier than traditional fossil fuel sources for around-the-clock energy, though costs have fallen and developers argue it is now more competitive. Better figures will emerge once Georgia Power signs contracts as part of earlier pushes to obtain solar power. The company expects to pay no more, if not less, for that solar power than it would pay to get it elsewhere, Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft said.
In an email to supporters, Georgia director for Americans for Prosperity Virginia Galloway wrote, “What if I told you something you’re not even hearing about in the news is about to raise your electricity bill by more than 40 percent and reduce the reliability of every appliance and electronics gadget in your home? That’s what will happen when your Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) votes on July 11th if you don’t take action today!”
AFP made a similar claim on Twitter.
To support her claim, Galloway cited a study by the Institute for Energy Research showing that customers in states that require utilities to buy renewable energy paid an average of 39 percent more than customers in states without those rules, such as Georgia.
Galloway acknowledged in an interview that the pending proposal would “probably not” raise bills by 40 percent, though she said cost increases are possible. She said Georgia Power already has too much spare electric capacity — a point raised independently by other observers — and said that government mandates can create extra expenses in the long run.
“I don’t think that everyone should be forced to pay more for a questionable thing,” she said.