Georgia Power’s Plan To Slow Renewable Energy Growth

Feb 2, 2016

Georgia Power has laid out its energy production plan for the next three years.

The utility is asking the state Public Service Commission to approve its plan, kicking off a months-long review process.

Georgia Power is required to file an Integrated Resource Plan every three years, detailing its plan for the next two decades.

In its 2016 filing, Georgia Power said it is looking to add 525 megawatts of renewable energy generation, such as solar and wind power, over the next three years, a slower growth rate than in the past four years.

The utility also said it wants to retire one coal-fire plant, Plant Mitchell near Albany, though it's been inactive since last year.

According to Sierra Club Georgia, Georgia Power will be slowing down its rate of investment in wind and solar power additions over the next three years.
Credit Courtesy of Sierra Club Georgia

Colleen Kiernan, director of Sierra Club Georgia, said the new plan represents a smaller investment in renewable energy than in previous years.

"They got off to a great start investing in cheap solar and wind power three years ago, but this plan takes us in the other direction and they'll scale down that investment significantly, while they continue to hold on to really old, really dirty, really expensive coal-fire power plants," Kiernan said.

Georgia Power said it's holding off retiring more coal plants until it knows more about how new EPA regulations, known as the Clean Power Plan, will affect the company's bottom line. The utility is currently fighting the regulations in court and released a statement about the regulations:

Using the EPA’s assumptions, in 2016-2017 alone, the [Clean Power Plan] would, for Georgia Power, result in $830 million in incremental costs related to increased production costs and an insufficient reserve margin, $70 million in additional transmission projects, $485 million to compensate for impacts to the fuels program and the retirement of over 4,000 MW of fossil-fired units with a current value of over $3.7 billion.

"We're focusing on preserving reliable and affordable service while maintaining options and flexibility on how we can meet our customers energy needs," said John Kraft with Georgia Power, describing the utility's overall strategy. "This starts a months-long process of back and forth with the PSC, providing more information, public hearings. We'll have a thorough exploration of all these issues. We feel like we've taken care to make sure we're going to be able to meet our customer needs out into the future by keeping a flexible system that we're able to have many options when it comes to reliable affordable power."