In its 20-year plan with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) Georgia Power said it aims to expand its renewable energy generation, increase energy efficiency and reduce its use of coal-fired power plants. It’s a move that would bring it closer to parent company, Southern Company’s, goal of becoming a low-to no-carbon company by 2050 and one that was heralded by sustainability advocates.
The company files an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with the commission every three years to outline how it will deliver energy to its customers over the next 20 years. Georgia Power said that as part of the plan, it’s proposing adding in up to 1,000 more megawatts of renewable energy programs.
Georgia Power said that if its plans are approved that, by 2024, 18 percent of its energy would come from renewables. The utility has continued to add more renewables and this represents a further expansion of those policies.
"At Georgia Power, we are committed to making smart investments for Georgia's energy future while ensuring our customers have the clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy they expect and deserve," said Allen Reaves, senior vice president and senior production officer, Georgia Power. "Working with the Georgia Public Service Commission, we have invested in a diverse energy mix of nuclear, natural gas, hydro, renewables, coal and energy efficiency resources in order to maintain high levels of reliability for our customers that have resulted in rates that are 15 percent below the national average.”
In addition to adding in more renewable energy Georgia Power requested to stop generating at four of its coal units at its Plant Hammond facility and one coal unit at its Plant McIntosh facility. It also noted that it is seeing economic pressure on coal-fired units, including its Plant Bowen units 1 and 2 in Cartersville.
The Sierra Club heralded the new IRP proposal. “We’re extremely pleased that Georgia Power is moving forward with the long-overdue coal retirement announcements at Plant Hammond and Plant McIntosh, and is moving Georgia forward on solar with much-needed clean energy procurements. We’re also glad the company appears to be avoiding the traps bedeviling other utilities in neighboring states: new fossil fuels buildout and the dangers of fracked gas,” said Stephen Stetson, The Sierra Club’s Georgia representative for its Beyond Coal campaign.
“We’re confident that Georgia’s energy needs can be met with a safe, coal-free grid, powered 100 percent by clean, abundant solar and wind, and bolstered by robust energy efficiency, and we look forward to being part of the process to keep moving in that direction,” Stetson said.
Georgia Power also is aiming to significantly increase energy savings programs. In total, the company said its energy savings measures would help reduce its peak demand by about 1,600 MWs, that’s about 10 percent of its peak demand.
The utility also is working with companies like Facebook that are purchasing power from renewable energy projects in its service area. In such arrangements the companies buy all the renewable energy credits from a project while the energy is transmitted through Georgia Power’s lines.Tweet