We're still in the middle of a sizzling summer in south Georgia. The heat index has often topped 110 degrees. That can be a health hazard, especially to older people, and especially to those who don't have air conditioning.
That's why most utility companies have heat policies to prevent cutoffs when it's dangerously hot. But the policy at the state's largest utility company needs to be changed.
The Public Service Commission mandates the policy for Georgia Power. It states that Georgia Power can't disconnect your electricity on a day during which by eight a.m., the National Weather Service issues a Heat Advisory or Excessive Heat Warning for your county.
Those must be issued when the heat index is forecast to be 110 degrees, but the weather service can issue them at a lower heat index.
Meet Walter Henderson. His 84-year old mother lives with him in Worth County. Georgia Power cut off their electricity in the middle of a severe heat wave. There was a heat advisory the day before the cutoff, and the day after the cutoff.
The day the Henderson's electricity was disconnected, the heat index was forecast to reach 109-degrees, one degree shy of a mandatory heat advisory.
Customers need to pay their bills on time. If you can't pay, you need to notify your utility early on. They'll usually work out a payment plan or put in touch with agencies that can help. You can even find those agencies at walb.com.
Georgia Power did that with the Hendersons. We understand power companies often have no choice but to disconnect customers, but it shouldn't be done during extreme weather conditions.
Even though Georgia Power followed the state policy in this case, an elderly woman's health was put in jeopardy. The Albany Water Gas and Light Commission has a more sensible policy. They won't cut you off if the heat index is expected to exceed 100-degrees.
A safety policy that doesn't really keep you safe doesn't make much sense. It's time for the Public Service Commission to use some common sense and reconsider their rules.