In recent statements in the MDJ and elsewhere, Cobb EMC representatives have repeatedly assured us that the co-op's current leadership has worked hard to keep member rates low. They seek to discredit critics and make wild claims about environmental conspiracies, because it is important to them to shift focus away from facts. When we do focus on facts, we find that they simply do not support the claims.
Since 1997, the Georgia Public Service Commission has conducted biannual residential rate surveys of all Georgia electric utilities. The PSC makes these surveys available on their website, enabling us to see for ourselves how Cobb EMC rates compare with those of other Georgia EMCs as well as with the rates charged by investor-owned utilities like Georgia Power. What we see is that Cobb EMC members have been paying significantly higher electric rates than most Georgians.
Over the past 15 years, Cobb EMC rates have averaged 5 percent higher than the statewide EMC average, and 11 percent higher than average Georgia Power rates. As recently as 2004, Cobb EMC members were paying an average of 18 percent more than were Georgia Power customers.
According to co-op communications, we had no rate increases for a decade. This is at best a half-truth. In 1997, Cobb EMC's average rate was 9.45 cents per kWh - 10 percent higher than the average Georgia EMC rate, and 13 percent higher than Georgia Power's average. While Cobb EMC rates did hover around that high level for about 10 years, Georgia Power and other EMC rates decreased significantly during that period. While Cobb EMC rates continued to average over 9 cents per kWh, Georgia Power customers were paying as little as 7.11 cents.
These pennies add up to significant additional cost to members. Over that 10-year period, for example, a Cobb EMC member consuming 1500 kWh per month paid $2,660 more than a Georgia Power customer consuming the same amount.
In 2007, our already-high rates began to rise dramatically. By 2010, we were paying an average of 11.4 cents per kWh. That's a whopping 17 percent increase - over three times the 5 percent increase claimed in official Cobb EMC publications.
In the face of such data, it is difficult to accept Cobb EMC's claim that its leadership has any concern for communicating honestly with - or in any sense serving - its members.