Climate Action Team member Betsy Rivard provided public comment at the Nov. 9 rate case hearing of the Georgia Public Service Commission. The state regulators began hearings in September on Georgia Power’s request to raise rates by 12% over the next three years. Learn about the rate case process here. Written comments can be submitted to the commission’s website here. Watch Betsy in action in this video, beginning at 23:45.

What motivated you to testify to the PSC?

I actually have been testifying during Public Comment opportunities at the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) for many years. I’ve been an active member and on the boards of Nuclear Watch South, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (Georgia WAND), and the Atlanta Chapter of the United Nations Association (UNA Atlanta). I have testified in the names of all three organizations. Nuclear Watch South has actually been an “intervener” in the past during updates on construction of the two new nuclear reactors at Vogtle Power Plant.

What were you told about the process?

I was just encouraged to participate, voicing my opinion about the huge profits Georgia Power has taken in the last 13 years since the construction at Vogtle began and, on other occasions, pointing out delays, cost overruns, “re-work” due to errors in construction, and profits during construction of the new reactors, all the while collecting nuclear construction charges (essentially, “taxes”). The commission repeatedly ignores the advice of their paid staff, which investigates and gives opinions on construction progress.

How did you prepare?

I studied reports from Georgia Power and received information from Glenn Carroll, executive director of Nuclear Watch South. This time, I was actually presenting an amazing graph prepared by Glenn, showing the outrageous Georgia Power profits from the last 13 years. 

How did you feel when you presented and after you were finished?

I felt empowered, but also not sure how well my testimony was heard by the commissioners.

Why should others in the UUCA community speak up about this issue?

I think it’s important for the commissioners to know there are people who are paying attention and not always in agreement with their positions on policy.

Rev. Aaron Robinson and Denise Barrett protested the proposed rate hike last month. (WABE)

What did this experience teach you?

It’s always frustrating to do this, but I think it is necessary for people to come out for the public comment period. There sometimes are comments by the commissioners, and during testimony of the interveners, there are extremely frustrating comments by commissioners. For example, during the rate case testimony, one commissioner said, “Why are you referring to what they do in California? This is not California!” It taught me to carry on and continue to voice my opinion.

Betsy offered these additional resources:

Public comments, as well as the cross-examination by intervening organizations (i.e., Sierra Club, GIPL, Southface, SACE, etc.) are recorded and can be viewed on Youtube here.  

This is an Atlanta Journal Constitution article about Georgia Power’s very restrictive limit on net metering for solar roofs.

Patty Durand paid for a huge ad in the Nov. 20 AJC. I think it was amazing that she placed this “ad”! It pretty well states the very valid problems with the current Public Service Commission rate case and how the members are elected.

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