DESPITE THE LETHARGIC ECONOMY and slow demand growth, public service commissioners in the United States aren’t holding utilities back from making investments – and in some cases are encouraging them to invest more in their states. But the commissions are being extra diligent in asking the utilities to prove a project’s economic worthiness and, in turn, are trying to better convey to ratepayers why the investments are necessary.

“I just can’t imagine that the commission is going to be as warm and fuzzy as we have been in the past,” said Georgia Public Service Commissioner Stan Wise, on the day that Georgia Power told the commission that it has cost overruns on a conversion of its Plant McDonough from coal to gas. “Ultimately, we will not support” similar cost overruns, he said.

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