ATLANTA Getting electricity from renewable sources should not cost much more than fossil-fuel power, representatives of church and environmental groups said Tuesday.
They took turns testifying before the Georgia Public Service Commission as it considers a proposal from Georgia Power Co. and Savannah Electric Power Co. to market so-called green power.
The two utilities, both subsidiaries of the Southern Co., want permission to sell blocks of 100 kilowatt hours for $6 per month. That works out to nearly twice the cost of electricity generated from the companies' coal, natural-gas, nuclear and hydroelectric plants.
Company officials estimate that 17,000 of their 1.4 million customers or 1 percent will opt for green power. And most will buy the minimum allotment, which is roughly a tenth of what the average residence uses.
The cost should be $4 or $5 for the minimum block, said Atlanta City Council member Clair Muller.
"As proposed, it would be the fifth-most expensive program in America," she said.
She said Atlanta would buy the minimum block at all of its facilities if the price were lower.
The Rev. Stephen H. Brown, associate pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, predicted that religious groups would focus increasing attention on the cleaning the environment through means like green power.
"Over the next several years, it will rival their commitment to the civil rights movement," he said.
But Commissioner Doug Everett asked him if other customers should have to pay higher rates so that 1 percent of the market could get cheaper green power.
Brown replied, "It's unfair for a small group that sees this as a justice issue to bear the full cost."
Georgia Power's director of pricing told the commission that the company won't take any profit from the program and will be willing to adjust rates down if it is able to contract with suppliers at lower rates than projected.
"The company is not going to keep any of this money," said Jonathan Kubler.
"It will be put back into the program."
The commission will vote on the matter July 15.
Walter C. Jones works for Morris News Service in Atlanta.
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