13 Organizations Call for Alabama PSC to Halt Disconnections, Late Fees

13 Organizations Call for Alabama PSC to Halt Disconnections, Late Fees

13 Organizations Call for Alabama PSC to Halt Disconnections, Late Fees

Today, 13 organizations formally requested the Alabama Public Service Commission issue an emergency order to halt utility shutoffs and late fees for all customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday, Alabama Power issued a statement that it “had no plans” to cut off service for “those impacted by COVID-19.” That’s not good enough. This is a matter of life and death for some people, especially those we serve. We have members with COPD, asthma, cancers, and heart disease — serious health conditions that are exacerbated by Alabama Power’s pollution.

Since last Friday, we have been asking Alabama Power to make an official statement that it is company policy not to disconnect any customer’s service during this public health and economic crisis and not to charge any late fees. Because their statements have been half-measures, we felt we needed to go one step further.

In this letter, we are asking the Alabama Public Service Commission to issue a decisive order suspending shutoffs and the accrual of late fees for all regulated electric, gas, water, and telecommunication utilities. 

Cutting off power in the midst of a global pandemic could be deadly. Folks aren’t online refreshing Alabama Power’s twitter feed to see what most recent tweak they’ve made to their statements. Our members certainly aren’t looking at the PSC website to see what Twinkle has said. They need across-the-board, decisive action. 

The co-signers of the letter are: Gasp, Energy Alabama, Alabama NAACP, Cahaba Riverkeeper, Alabama Interfaith Power and Light, Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, Cahaba River Society, Faith in Action Alabama, Adelante Alabama Worker Center, Alabama Rivers Alliance, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, and Birmingham Indivisible. 

Read our statement here: Letter-to-Alabama-Public-Service-Commission-to-Suspend-Shutoffs-and-Late-Fees 

Alabama Power, Alabama PSC Should Protect Consumers During COVID-19

Alabama Power, Alabama PSC Should Protect Consumers During COVID-19

Alabama Power, Alabama PSC Should Protect Consumers During COVID-19

Contact:
Daniel Tait, Energy Alabama, [email protected], 256-812-1431
Michael Hansen, Gasp, [email protected], 205-746-4666

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (March 15, 2020) — Gasp and Energy Alabama are calling on Alabama Power to immediately suspend shutoffs and late fees through at least May 1, 2020 for customers who find themselves unable to pay their electric bills during the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

Gasp and Energy Alabama believe that if Alabama Power will not act, the Alabama Public Service Commission has a duty to all Alabamians to act immediately. Further, the Alabama Public Service Commission should issue an order suspending shutoffs for all regulated electric, gas, and water utilities.

“Alabama is one of the poorest and least healthy states in the U.S., and Alabama Power customers pay some of the highest electricity bills in the nation,” said Michael Hansen, executive director of Gasp. “That’s a recipe for disaster. Those most at-risk will only be made more vulnerable if they lose electricity during this national crisis. Alabama Power has a moral responsibility to suspend cutoffs and late fees for all customers.”

Governor Kay Ivey declared a State of Emergency on Friday, March 13 after the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the State of Alabama.

Georgia Power, owned by the same parent company as Alabama Power, announced it would suspend residential shutoffs for thirty days, beginning on March 14. On March 15, the Mississippi Public Service Commission issued an emergency order on suspending all shutoffs for electric, gas, water, and sewer for sixty days.

“Alabama Power should have acted days ago to protect consumers, especially as its sister company Georgia Power has already acted,” said Daniel Tait, Chief Operating Officer of Energy Alabama. “That advocacy organizations like Energy Alabama and Gasp have to force the company to do the right thing is a failure of leadership at the highest level.”

Utilities across the country are suspending shutoffs for late payment during the COVID-19, as reported by the Energy and Policy Institute.

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About Energy Alabama
Energy Alabama is a nonprofit organization accelerating Alabama’s transition to sustainable energy. We accomplish our mission by educating at all levels, informing smart energy policy, building the next-generation workforce, and providing technical assistance to deploy more sustainable energy. We believe in sustainable energy for all. energyalabama.org

About Gasp
Gasp is a nonprofit health advocacy organization based in Birmingham, Ala. Our mission is to advance healthy air and environmental justice in the greater-Birmingham area through education, advocacy, and collaboration. We strive to reduce exposure to air pollution, educate the public on the health risks associated with poor air quality, and encourage community leaders to serve as role models by advocating for clean air and clean energy. gaspgroup.org

Experts Expose Flaws in Alabama Power’s Billion Dollar Request

Experts Expose Flaws in Alabama Power’s Billion Dollar Request

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts
Emily Driscoll, Southern Environmental Law Center, [email protected], 404-641-8108
Daniel Tait, Energy Alabama, [email protected], 256-812-1431
Michael Hansen, Gasp, [email protected], 205-746-4666

Experts Expose Glaring Flaws in Alabama Power’s Billion Dollar Request 

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Hearings concluded late yesterday before the Alabama Public Service Commission concerning Alabama Power’s petition to add nearly 2.4 gigawatts of new capacity, a proposal that will cost customers at least $1.1 billion.

On behalf of Energy Alabama and Gasp, the Southern Environmental Law Center intervened in the docket to question Alabama Power’s lack of evidentiary support to build and buy such a significant amount of new gas resources.

Over the course of three days, 15 expert witnesses provided testimony and responded to questions under cross examination from Alabama Power, SELC and other intervenors concerning the utility’s request to increase its total power-producing capabilities by almost 20%. The utility previously asserted it wouldn’t need new generation sources until 2035.

Energy Alabama and Gasp’s experts exposed significant flaws in Alabama Power’s planning and justification processes. In written and oral testimony, the experts pointed to the utility’s long-standing efforts to build rate base and revenue requirements through excessive, unnecessary, and expensive new generation, all of which will increase costs for customers for decades.

“Alabama Power simply did not produce the evidence it needed to in order to justify such an unprecedented expense,” said Daniel Tait, Chief Operating Officer of Energy Alabama.  “Alabama Power wants to write checks that benefit its shareholders, while the rest of us bear all the risks and financial burden even though our electric bills are already among the highest in the nation.”

“Alabama Power’s proposal is inconsistent with its own parent company’s low-to-no carbon pledge, and is the wrong path for Alabamians looking for lower electric bills and a more sustainable grid,” said Michael Hansen, Executive Director of Gasp. “Alabama Power claims it needs more than a billion dollars’ worth of new, mostly fossil fuel generation to address a supposed trend toward extreme cold—this proposal simply doesn’t reflect the world we’re living in and won’t get us to a lower carbon future we urgently need to reach.”

“Alabama Power’s own analysis shows that clean energy is the more affordable alternative, yet it is pushing for a massive amount of new, expensive capacity for which Alabamians will be on the hook for decades,” said SELC staff attorney Christina Andreen Tidwell. “As the utility itself has noted, businesses and customers are increasingly demanding renewable energy—it’s time to listen to Alabamians who want energy decisions that benefit us, not shareholders.”

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About Gasp: Gasp is a nonprofit health advocacy organization based in Birmingham, Ala. Our mission is to advance healthy air and environmental justice in the greater-Birmingham area through education, advocacy, and collaboration. We strive to reduce exposure to air pollution, educate the public on the health risks associated with poor air quality, and encourage community leaders to serve as role models by advocating for clean air and clean energy. gaspgroup.org

About Energy Alabama: Energy Alabama is a membership-based non-profit organization accelerating Alabama’s transition to sustainable energy. We accomplish our mission by educating at all levels, informing smart energy policy, building the next generation workforce, and providing technical assistance to deploy more sustainable energy. We believe in sustainable energy for all. energyalabama.org

About Southern Environmental Law Center: For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With over 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. SouthernEnvironment.org

Legal Petition: TVA Violating Customers’ Rights by Giving Millions to Dirty Energy Lobbyists

Legal Petition: TVA Violating Customers’ Rights by Giving Millions to Dirty Energy Lobbyists

Legal Petition: TVA Violating Customers’ Rights by Giving Millions to Dirty Energy Lobbyists

Contact: Howard Crystal, (202) 809-6926, [email protected]

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Center for Biological Diversity and other organizations petitioned the Tennessee Valley Authority today to stop giving millions of dollars in ratepayer money to anti-environmental advocacy groups like the Edison Electric Institute and Energy and Wildlife Action Coalition.

Today’s rulemaking petition, filed under the Administrative Procedures Act, notes that these groups litigate and lobby to deny protections to imperiled wildlife, delay the critical transition to clean energy and hamper efforts to combat climate change. TVA is violating its customers’ First Amendment rights by compelling them to fund this work against the interest of Tennessee Valley communities, the petitioners say.

“TVA claims to care about our climate, but it’s giving millions in ratepayer money to lobby groups fighting the crucial transition to clean energy,” said Howard Crystal, legal director at the Center’s Energy Justice Program. “There’s a desperate need to support clean power and the energy needs of low-income customers. Instead TVA is dumping big bucks into organizations that undermine protections for our climate and the air we breathe.”

TVA spends millions of dollars supporting groups engaged in controversial political advocacy. The agency pays more than $500,000 a year to Edison Electric, which has fought to roll back state incentives for rooftop solar. TVA has also paid more than $7 million to the Utility Air Regulatory Group, which has been involved in a large number of lawsuits challenging federal clean air rules.

Although TVA claims it pays these groups for other services, in 2018 the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protects against compelled payments to unions due to their political activities, regardless of the specific use of those payments. Similarly, today’s petition notes, TVA ratepayers may not be forced through their electricity rates to fund these groups at all.

TVA also donates millions of dollars of ratepayer funds to charitable organizations. Today’s petition also calls on TVA to allow its customers to make their own decisions on where to devote their charitable dollars.

“TVA should immediately stop giving their customers’ money to special interest lobbyists to promote backward-looking energy policies,” said Glen Brand, vice president of policy and advocacy for Solar United Neighbors. “Forcing ratepayers to finance policies counter to their own interests is simply wrong.”

The petition asks TVA to issue new regulations that would proscribe these payments, and gives TVA 30 days to respond.

“TVA should stick to its mission instead of funding the fight against clean energy with ratepayers’ money,” said Michael Hansen, executive director of the Greater-Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution, or Gasp. “Transitioning to clean, renewable energy as quickly as possible in a just and equitable way will undoubtedly improve the quality of life for those who live, work and play in the valley.”

TVA is a federally owned corporation and the nation’s largest public power provider. It generates electricity for more than 9 million customers in Tennessee, northern Alabama, northeastern Mississippi, southwestern Kentucky, and portions of northern Georgia, western North Carolina and southwestern Virginia.

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.