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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Final Vote This Week on GA Power Rate Hike

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Monday, December 19, 2022   

The Georgia Public Service Commission will hold a final vote this week on Georgia Power's next three-year plan.

After months of public hearings, the utility company and state regulatory staff reached a settlement agreement for the next rate hike for customers. It reduces Georgia Power's original request, which was close to $3 billion, to $1.8 billion.

Charline Whyte, senior representative of the Beyond Coal campaign for the Sierra Club in Georgia, said if the stipulated agreement is approved, it would go into effect on Jan. 1.

"So what will happen is that the commissioners will review the stipulation and then vote," Whyte explained. "If they don't agree with everything in the stipulation, they have the authority to make motions for the entire commission to reconsider and vote."

Whyte pointed out the agreement covers the rate hike itself, how much money the utility can use for new infrastructure and general maintenance, and how much it gets to recover as profit. Georgia Power serves 2.7 million customers in almost every county in the state. We reached out to the company for comment, but did not receive a response by deadline.

Whyte noted the original proposal would have meant a 12% increase in residential electric bills, and emphasized even a smaller rate hike will make the new year tougher for some households.

"No one should have to worry about whether they can afford to keep their lights on," Whyte argued. "But this rate increase will make that even harder for many families in Georgia. And people shouldn't have to choose between paying a power bill and buying medicine."

Whyte added next year, Georgia Power plans to come back to the Public Service Commission again. In February, it is expected the company will ask to recover its fuel costs, which would also be folded into customers' bills.

"The other two potential ones are related to plant Vogtle," Whyte remarked. "Once the units are in full operation, they already have a 10% built-in increase on the rate."

She is referring to the Vogtle Electric Plant in Waynesboro, which is being expanded to include the nation's first new nuclear-power capacity in more than three decades. Georgia Power recently announced it has completed the cold hydro testing phase for Vogtle Unit 4.

Disclosure: The Sierra Club contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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