ATLANTA — Legislation allowing Georgia Power to fund Plant Vogtle’s nuclear expansion and other major projects through bonds was approved Monday by a state Senate committee over objections from the chairman of the Commission on Georgia Civil Service.
Senate Bill 421 would allow Georgia Power to seek securitized bond financing to recoup some of the costs of the Vogtle project as well as what the Atlanta-based utility is spending to retire its fleet of coal-fired power plants and clean up ponds. surrounding ashes. these plants.
Twenty-six states have passed similar legislation, including nine that use bonds to fund non-emergency situations such as coal-fired plant pensions, Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, told members of the Senate Committee on Human Rights Monday. regulated industries and utilities.
The Georgia bill includes a provision prohibiting the PSC from approving bond financing if it does not provide “quantifiable and verifiable” savings to clients, he said.
Going with securitized bonds would be voluntary on Georgia Power’s part, Hufstetler said.
The commission has not taken a formal position on the bill, but PSC Chair Tricia Pridemore told committee members that practical considerations would make it impossible for the commission to use securitized bond funding. For one thing, PSC staff lack securitization expertise, she said.
Pridemore said securitization has been used to force some states to adopt a “renewable portfolio standard” requiring a certain percentage of electricity to come from renewable sources.
Although the Georgia PSC has never imposed such a mandate, Peach State is expected to rank fourth in the nation in solar energy by 2024, up from ninth today, she said. declared.
Bobby Baker, energy lawyer. a former member of the PSC, said the bill would also deny the commission the flexibility to make adjustments as conditions change.
“It’s a one-and-done,” Baker said. “Once the commission approves the bond financing, that’s it.”
Baker also called the bill unnecessary because Georgia Power must recover the costs of Vogtle’s plant expansion and coal ash cleanup from customers.
Hufstetler’s bill also drew opposition from a Georgia Power executive during a committee hearing two weeks ago.