Power infrastructure: Georgia PSC


State Commissioners

Fortnightly Magazine - June 18 2024

Ten Commissioners discuss their concerns about electric power infrastructure.


PUF's Paul Kjellander: What are the most important needs for electric power infrastructure?

Commissioner Tricia Pridemore: The needs today are the needs they've always been — generation, transmission, distribution. We're seeing an increased need across our nation for new capacity.

We're seeing a technology industry that's exploding with new developments. The electricity industry needs to be there to support that. It's good for America. It's good for business. It's good for American citizens.

To do that, we've got to continue to build new generation. That includes gas, combustion turbines, and new nuclear. I also think that we're going to see renewables play a role. But long-term, for solar to be important to me as a regulator, it's got to be attached to long-duration energy storage.

PUF: What are the greatest concerns that you see as a regulator from Georgia?

Commissioner Tricia Pridemore: Lack of capacity and capacity shortfalls. That is remarkable to say, when I just finished regulatory proceedings on new, AP1000 nuclear units of five hundred megawatts each, that go to the vertically integrated investor-owned utility we have in Georgia.

So, for me to say capacity shortages, it's breathtaking. But we are learning every day that as artificial intelligence is being used across the corporate business spectrum, its processing needs are so much greater than anything we've seen.

EEI Annual Meeting 2024 - June 18-20

I used to own a software company, and I had an ASP. We had a product that sat in the cloud that people could access in the early 2000s. The multiplication on the power need is so much greater now.

An AI search has ten more hits than a single, simple search engine hit. It's this increased need for processing, which means there's going to be an increased need for more capacity across the electric space.

PUF: How should utility regulation adjust to these needs and concerns? 

Commissioner Tricia Pridemore: Utility regulators need to be nimble. We need to be open-minded. I think the best way to regulate is to be curious and want to understand the new business that's out there.

I also want us to be mindful that the way you may have done something at your Commission forever, isn't necessarily the way you've got to look at this issue or other outstanding issues.

We're going to continue to need to grow our nation's electric infrastructure. To do that, we've got to be nimble, curious, look into these matters, and make our decisions prudently.

Think about the long-term effects of these decisions. Think about ways that we can provide value for everybody in every rate class.

PUF: In the 2040s, what might the electric power structure look like?

Commissioner Tricia Pridemore: I'm fortunate to live in a state and be elected in a state where we do not have an RPS, so we are not constrained to lose the fact that we're still financial regulators. We're still looking at the best-cost option for a safe, reliable, affordable system.

I'm also in a state that would never tolerate blackouts and curtailments. Because of that, we're able to look at an all-of-the-above solution, so that we can have diversity within our generation mix.

That diverse generation of nuclear, hydro, solar, gas. We still have some coal in Georgia, but that gives me so much flexibility, especially when I'm trying to be keen on reliability measures.

I also love the fact that I'm not in an RTO/ISO, and that we have a single, vertically integrated investor-owned utility that works with forty-one electric co-ops and forty-seven municipal providers, but everybody works together in a single system with single transmission capabilities.

PUF: How do infrastructure needs compete with concerns about affordability?

Commissioner Tricia Pridemore: Affordability is always top of mind, especially as we've seen inflation grow substantially, as it's grown over the last three-and-a-half years. The cost of everything has gone up, and the cost to create, produce, and maintain these systems has also gone up.

EEI Annual Meeting 2024 - June 18-20

Affordability is key, but another big piece of affordability — besides those elements that come from Washington — that's killing us right now, is everything going on at the EPA. Look at EPA 111, and how these measures could place fees and fines on different generation, which could price reliability out of reach.

That's not right. Not when we're not getting a lot of benefit from it. We should be looking at the environmental benefits in light of reliability and ensuring access to clean, affordable energy in line with clean technology improvements.


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