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In This Issue
Ratepayers at risk
Help finding healthcare
Clark Howard
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Issue: # INovember 2012

Welcome to the first issue of the WATCHER with our new logo and newsletter style. Check out the issues we're watching for you below. 

Ratepayers at risk

As Georgia Watch has been predicting for months, a legal dispute between Georgia Power Company and its Plant Vogtle contractors is escalating and putting ratepayers at risk of picking up the tab.  In a lawsuit filed in federal court on November 1, Westinghouse Electric Co. and a subsidiary of the Shaw Group sued Georgia Power and other utilities involved in the project over at least $900 million in costs associated with construction of two new nuclear power units in Waynesboro, Georgia.

Georgia Power had earlier filed suit against the contractors over the same dispute back in August. The determination as to which party bears responsibility is up to the courts. But protecting ratepayer interests is in the hands of the Georgia Public Service Commission. Since Georgia Power has a nearly 46 percent stake in the project, the Company's share of almost a billion dollars in cost overruns could reach $425 million or higher.  Should the costs be found to be the Company's responsibility, Georgia Power has indicated that it will ask the Commission to make them the responsibility of ratepayers.

The utility's financial interests are protected from the beginning to the end of this project, but consumers have no mechanism in place to protect their wallets, no matter how egregious the project's cost overruns are! Georgia Watch has been calling for a risk-sharing mechanism in light of the very real prospect that ratepayers may be forced to shoulder hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns for the Project.  Through such a mechanism, the Company's investors and ratepayers would equitably share in any cost overruns incurred related to Georgia Power's $6.1 billion ownership interest in the project. Such a mechanism clearly would provide Georgia Power with a strong incentive to manage the project efficiently in order to keep costs down.

In August, however, the Commission unanimously declined to further consider a risk-sharing mechanism.

New website helps consumers find healthcare facilities in Georgia

Earlier this month the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) launched a new website to give consumers more information about hospitals and other healthcare facilities. From the new website at, consumers can find nearby hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, maternity homes and other facilities simply by entering their zip code, address, city or county. The website also contains general information about different healthcare facilities and their offerings in Georgia.

In addition to these features, provides access to required annual reports from numerous hospitals and regulated healthcare facilities in the state of Georgia. In reviewing these reports, consumers can find a hospital's total expenses, revenue and amounts spent on charity care. Annual questionnaires and financial reports from nursing homes and other facilities are also available. "We applaud DCH for making this important information available to consumers," commented Georgia Watch Health Access Program Director Bill Rencher. "We support their decision to increase hospital transparency and accountability by making this information readily accessible."

In looking for and choosing healthcare providers, Georgia Watch also encourages consumers to find out how hospitals rank in regards to infection rates and patient safety. Key safety data on all Georgia hospitals is now available on the federal website

Clark Howard says to support Georgia Watch!
For the past ten years, Georgia Watch has represented your interests, not special interests. We're here to ensure that Georgians get a fair shake and aren't taken advantage of. To keep doing this work for the next ten years and beyond, we need your support.


As Georgia Watch board member Clark Howard says, Georgia Watch is "the only bona fide group in Georgia looking out for consumers" and a donation to Georgia Watch is "double the bang for your buck, because you're helping a great organization that's working for you and you get savings back on your income tax."


Every donation counts and is fully tax deductible. Donate today! 


I hope you enjoyed our first newsletter in this new format. Please let us know what you think. 


As we all prepare this week to give thanks with our family and friends, I wanted to let you know how very thankful we are for you support.


Happy Thanksgiving! 
 Elena Small Signature 
Elena Parent
Executive Director