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PSC blocks power cutoffs in heat

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POSTED: October 4, 2007 5:04 a.m.
Atlanta — The Georgia Public Service Commission issued an order earlier this month putting in stop-gap measures to prohibit the disconnection of Georgia Power consumers during extreme hot weather.
“With the adoption of today’s order, we now have a measure in place to provide some basic protection during heat waves,” Commissioner Angela Elizabeth Speir said. “That will give us the time we need to study the issue more thoroughly to make sure that the policy we have is the best one.”
Speir initiated a rulemaking proceeding at the Commission two weeks ago when high temperatures were breaking all previous records.
“The heat wave that Georgia experienced last month — and the unfortunate news that several Georgia seniors died as a result of the heat — brought this issue to the forefront,” Speir said. “The Center for Disease Control estimates that on average 700 people per year die as a result of excessive heat in this country.
“As the news accounts from last month demonstrated, Georgia is not immune. The CDC also reports that the vast majority of those who die as a result of excess heat are 65 years old and up, but it is certainly not limited to them.
“While I am pleased that the commission acted today,” Speir said, “this measure was adopted without any true analysis of its effectiveness. Is it the best policy? I certainly hope so, but now we need to roll up our sleeves and do the work necessary to find out.”
The commission has long had rules restricting utilities from disconnecting consumers on the cold days. In winter, consumers cannot be disconnected when the forecasted low temperature for the next 24 hours is below 32 degree Fahrenheit. But the commission had nothing in place governing hot days.
The order the commission issued now requires the Georgia Power Co. to file an inclusion in its tariff providing for an exception for disconnections during hot weather as follows:
Residential service will not be disconnected if at 8 a.m. on the scheduled disconnection day, the forecasted high temperature for the day is 98 degrees or higher or the heat index for the day is forecasted to be 110 degrees or higher.
 

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