PSC Approves Rate Adjustments for Investments in Customer Experience, Safety and Compliance
ATLANTA – Dec. 19, 2019 – The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) voted today to approve $65 million in rate adjustments following Atlanta Gas Light’s first rate case since 2010. The adjustment funds two years of system improvements and other compliance initiatives and represents approximately a 4% increase on the total bill for the typical residential customer, or $2.54 per month. Atlanta Gas Light customers will be assessed the increase starting in January of 2020, and they will see the adjustment reflected in the Atlanta Gas Light Pass-Through or Base Charge on their natural gas marketer bills.
“These rate adjustments allow us to continue making investments that not only enhance the customer experience, but the safety and reliability of our system,” said Bryan Batson, president of Atlanta Gas Light. “We are mindful of the impact any increase can have on customers with low or fixed incomes. Fortunately, thanks to today’s lower natural gas prices, consumers are still paying on average $250 less on their total natural gas bill than even 10 years ago.”
The company filed in June of 2019 for a $90 million increase in base rates, or a $3.80 monthly increase for typical residential customers. Atlanta Gas Light sought the increase to accomplish the following:
Improve compliance and best safety practices through more damage prevention programs, more oversight at construction sites, installation of remote-control valves, aging pipeline replacement, regulator station upgrades, installation of cyber security protective measures and pipeline inspection and testing to help ensure appropriate operating pressures comply with pending federal regulations.
Build system resiliency through pipeline improvements in Bryan, Chatham, Cobb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Gilmer, Hall, Murray and Paulding counties. Improvements are necessary to boost capacity for future growth and avoid service losses on the coldest days of the year.
Apply innovation and put customers first through information technology upgrades to improve the company’s interaction with its customers and Georgia marketers’ customers. This investment, along with the addition of personnel, will improve customer engagement and satisfaction, as well as shorten scheduled appointment windows and improve leak response times.
Grow the system through economic development, including new meter installs, new main extensions and facility relocations related to public projects. Extending natural gas services to underserved areas will promote growth and jobs in local communities.
Under the PSC’s decision, Atlanta Gas Light is required to:
Enhance customer experience by fulfilling no less than 80% of its scheduled customer appointments within a four-hour window.
Increase the availability of four-hour customer reconnection appointments within the 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM time window by 25%.
Improve average leak response times to 25 minutes or less.
Establish regular reconnection customer appointments on Saturdays.
Continue under the Georgia Rate Adjustment Mechanism (GRAM) through at least 2021. GRAM is an alternative ratemaking mechanism that adjusts rates up or down based on quarterly and annual comprehensive regulatory reviews that include historic data, inflation and other changes in business conditions.
Manage its capital and operations and maintenance budgets so that rates in 2021 do not exceed 5% growth over base rates in effect in 2020.
The PSC also directed Atlanta Gas Light, Georgia Watch and PSC staff to work together to implement a $1 million low-income assistance program.
Additionally, the PSC will initiate a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2020 to develop a long-range planning process similar to that which exists in the electric industry. The new planning process will integrate the current Capacity Supply Plan process with a new multi-year infrastructure plan that will include capital projects and estimated costs over a 10-year planning horizon. The new planning process, which will take place every three years, will be useful for the company and regulators in ratemaking proceedings, as the vast majority of capital spending will have already been examined and acted upon.
About Atlanta Gas Light
Atlanta Gas Light is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Atlanta Gas Light provides natural gas delivery service to more than 1.6 million customers in Georgia. In operation since 1856, the company is one of the oldest corporations in the state. For more information, visit atlantagaslight.com.
About Southern Company Gas
Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.2 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with approximately 700,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines, asset management for natural gas wholesale customers and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit southerncompanygas.com.
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