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Bill saves interest on utility investment

The people's business

POSTED: February 16, 2009 10:17 a.m.
This week in the Georgia Senate we began an aggressive new legislative schedule, continued to work to balance the budget, and also took up the controversial Georgia Power Nuclear Financing Act.   
The Georgia Power Nuclear Financing Act, SB 31, allows recovering of financing costs during the construction of two nuclear power generators rather than have the financing costs compounded at the end of the project.  We closely examined the bill and its potential impact on consumers as well as local businesses and local electric membership cooperative.  Our debate of the bill resulted in a balanced approach to ensure the greatest benefit to energy consumers.  This bill provides long-term payoffs by allowing for lower electricity rates for our children and grandchildren.  
These generators are a viable solution for our energy problems.  Nuclear energy makes up about 20 percent of the national energy supply and the new reactors would add needed diversity to Georgia’s fuel mix at a time when fuel prices are increasing.  Further, it represents the only technology that does not produce greenhouse gas emissions.  
Often utility companies charge for construction projects after the project is complete and interest has accumulated.  This bill allows Georgia Power to charge for the financing costs before exorbitant amounts of interest are accumulated and therefore saving consumers approximately $300 million.  This bill does not dictate what rate the Public Service Commission or Georgia Power can charge customers in any future rate case.  The potential monthly increase to power bills is $1.30, which would not begin until 2011.
Another important piece of legislation we passed this week is the Taxpayer Protection Act, SR 1, to limit government spending and growth through increased accountability.  The bill seeks to institute tighter fiscal controls on the way government spends money by designating budget surpluses to help rebuild Georgia’s “Rainy Day” Fund or by providing refunds to taxpayers to ensure that the state’s spending does not exceed inflation plus population.  
The Senate and the House continue to work collaboratively to balance the 2009 and 2010 budgets by the end of March.  While it appears that Washington continues to spend money they do not have as evidenced by the stimulus package, we will balance Georgia’s budget without raising taxes.  
We’ve also set a new schedule for this legislative session.  The Senate will now be in session Tuesday through Thursday until March 25.  Mondays and Fridays each week are committed to committee and budget work in order to find the appropriate efficiencies to maintain essential government services to all of Georgia.  We plan to wrap up the 2009 Legislative Session in 35 days, reserving five days in June for possible budget adjustments.  By shortening the session to 35 days, we are doing our part to save taxpayer dollars during this difficult economic time.  
I would like to hear about the issues that are important to you and can be reached at (404) 656-0089 or by e-mail at tommie@tommiewilliams.com

Williams is Senate pro tem and represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Appling, Jeff Davis, Long, Montgomery, Toombs, Wayne and Wheeler counties and a portion of Liberty and Tattnall counties. He can be reached at (404) 656-0089 or by e-mail at tommie@tommiewilliams.com.
 

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