The Georgia Public Service Commission today approved a new Green Energy Rate for Georgia Power to begin marketing to its customers.
The new rate will allow consumers to pay a premium to use electricity generated from green technologies such as wind, solar and landfill gas-to-energy.
This program allows us to help create a market for renewable energy which should encourage the development of more sources and better technologies, said David Ratcliffe, Georgia Powers president and CEO. Long term, we hope this rate will help lower the cost and increase the demand for renewable technologies.
Georgia Power customers will be able to purchase 100 kilowatt hour (kwh) blocks of green energy for an additional $5.50 a month.
Residential customers must purchase a minimum of one 100 kwh block on a 12-month contract. Other customers also have minimum block requirements on yearly contracts.
Small non-residential customers must commit to two blocks, medium non-residential customers have a 25-block minimum and large non-residential customers have a 400-block minimum.
The monthly fee essentially pays the additional cost of purchasing green energy from companies who have won bids through competitive solicitations to provide electricity to Georgia Power.
The program includes a provision for qualifying non-profit customers, such as churches. If those organizations get 10 percent of their membership, with a minimum of 23 blocks, to sign up for the Green Energy Rate, the organization will only be required to commit to two blocks of electricity instead of the 25 blocks required by the category.
Georgia Power is currently negotiating with companies to supply the green power but plans to initially have 38,000 total blocks of green energy available. More electricity will be purchased if needed, according to Jeff Petrea, Georgia Powers Green Energy product manager.
Initially, about 83 percent of the power will come from landfill-to-energy projects, 16 percent from wind and one percent from solar, Petrea said. The mix of energy sources mirrors industry trends for green energy in the Southeast and has been agreed to by environmental groups, the PSC staff and Georgia Power.
Billing for the Green Energy Rate will begin the first billing cycle after a customer signs up for the program, but the actual energy will not start flowing on the power grid until Jan. 1, 2004.
We will make sure that we make good on the amount of energy purchased once the electricity starts flowing, so that the customers get what they pay for, Petrea said.
Petrea noted that, because of the physics of the electric grid, the company can not guarantee that the green energy purchased is actually delivered to the participating customers. However, the amount purchased will replace electricity from traditional sources on the power grid and will encourage the growth of the green energy market.
We are proud of this new program because it is an example of our pledge to respond to our consumers desire and also reflects our goal to continue to reduce our impact on the environment, Ratcliffe said.
Customers can sign up for the Green Energy Rate by calling Georgia Power at 1-800-735-7791 or by going to the Internet at www.georgiapower.com/greenenergy.
Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nations largest generators of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility, serving customers in 57,000 of the states 59,000 square miles. Georgia Powers rates are more than 15 percent below the national average and its 2 million customers are in all but six of Georgias 159 counties.