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Georgia utilities are partners in economic development

July 24, 2013

By Chris Cummiskey, Commissioner, Georgia Department of Economic Development

Most of Georgia’s competitive advantages for economic development are well-documented: our skilled long-term workforce; access to the world through our ports and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport; and the pro-business environment carefully cultivated by our state and local governments. What’s not so well known, but should be, is our secret weapon: our energy providers. Companies prospecting the state for relocations are pleasedto discover that energy in Georgia is reliable, it’s affordable and there’s plenty of it.

Residents and existing businesses in the state already know this. In fact, we probably take it for granted. But while other states have some of the energy assets companies need, most can’t offer the comprehensive energy package Georgia does. That’s because Georgia’s utilities are active partners in growing the state through economic development, and years ago implemented long-range plans to anticipate our needs.

One of the many factors companies look at when considering new locations and expansions is the efficiency and affordability of energy. Think about it: successful operations, especially manufacturing ones, need to deliver their products when their customers expect them. To do that, they must have a steady, reliable flow of power. And to make products and services affordable to their customers, companies must keep costs down, which means that the energy they use must be cost-effective.

In Georgia, we are fortunate to be home to companies such as the Georgia Electric Membership Corporation (Georgia EMC), Georgia Power and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG), who had the foresight to implement energy production plans that accommodated Georgia’s rapid growth: fourth-fastest in the U.S. from 2000 to 2010, according to the U.S. Census. So today, Georgia has plenty of energy to accommodate industrial, commercial and residential needs alike at rates below the national average. What’s more, this energy supply is extremely reliable—able to provide a continuous, steady flow of power.

Georgia’s utilities also work with potential customers interested in alternative and emerging technologies, helping them determine what makes sense for their needs in a cost-effective way.

What differentiates Georgia most of all from other states is the fact that new, large customers who build a facility in the state have a one-time choice of electricity suppliers. Since 1973, any customer with a connected load of at least 900 kilowatts can put its electric service up for bid.

This concept of customer choice is good for the company, good for the utilities, and good for Georgia.  

Consider:

  • Georgia companies benefit from a high-quality yet affordable energy supply.
  • Georgia gains new jobs because the vast majority of states don’t offer a choice of power suppliers–that gives the state a competitive advantage in economic development.
  • Georgia citizens benefit from job opportunities created by companies drawn to Georgia by this choice of affordable options.
  • All Georgia utilities gain when a new industrial or commercial customer comes to the state. Even the utilities who don’t win the contract benefit indirectly from increased business created by the customer, whether through new suppliers, new clients, or new employees.

This focus on customer service unites Georgia’s power generation utilities with other forces for economic development in the state, and teams partnering on a project ensure a prospective company is informed of all the state’s advantages for business. Georgia’s energy providers have played an important role in virtually every company the state’s economic development team has helped locate or expand, and in this age of global competition for business, that’s critical. It’s time more people knew.

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