Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgians Speak out on Utility Issue

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgians Speak out on Utility Issue

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- A U.S. House Commerce subcommittee was urged

yesterday alternately to slow down, speed up or abandon the task

of deregulating power companies, the last great utility monopoly

standing in Georgia.

Small business owners and corporate managers told the

congressional subcommittee to remove price controls and

territorial carve-outs for power suppliers, letting market

competition bring down what they called exorbitant price of

lighting, heating and cooling.

Leone Grizzard of East Point, Ga., said her flower shop is

being driven out of business by rising utility costs, which

started around $1,000 annually and now are up to $5,000 a year.

If the price doesn't come down, Grizzard told Rep. Dan

Schaefer, R-Colo., and his subcommittee, "I along with countless

other small businesses will either be forced out of business or

have to relocate to more sensitive cities."

Home Depot corporate engineering manager Jim Laird said power

costs in Savannah are double what the costs are in the Atlanta

metropolitan area, where the company enjoys more choices in

power.

"There has to be some federal oversight," Laird said.

The big players in Georgia electricity are the Southern Company

and its subsidiaries, Georgia Power and Savannah Electric and

Power Company; the Municipal Electric Association of Georgia;

Oglethorpe Power Company; and many electric cooperatives

centered in the Atlanta suburbs.

State legislation passed in 1973 divided Georgia into

territories, with Georgia Power and other providers holding a

monopoly on residential and most commercial service in a given

area. The utilities can compete, however, for new large

industries.

The legislation Schaefer hopes to introduce on the House floor

this summer would force each state to deregulate its utilities

by Dec. …

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