As we begin to reflect on our 2009 coal challenge in Georgia, it is clear that the opposition to Plant Washington continues to grow and we are confident that in 2010 Power4Georgians, the consortium of EMC’s proposing this coal plant, will be fighting an uphill battle. Over the course of 2009 we saw more and more Georgia citizens stand up against this risky coal plant proposal. Just last month, over 300 citizens came out to EPD’s one and only permit hearing in Sandersville to say no to Plant Washington while many others attended statewide citizen hearings on October 6th to voice their concerns.
Meanwhile, frustration grows with Cobb EMC officials who are accused of a breach of fiduciary responsibility and mismanagement of member funds. Dwight Brown, the CEO, is one of Plant Washington’s biggest proponents and has clear connections to the corruption scandal. We remain seriously concerned about allegedly corrupt officials heading up the pursuit of a dirty coal plant.
Another encouraging development we’ve seen is that the EMC leadership investing in this coal plant proposal is gradually opening to the idea that building a new coal plant in Georgia may not be their best option to meet energy needs. During the spring of this year, four of the ten EMCs chose to pull out of the Plant Washington project, claiming that coal is too risky of an investment.
Some of the EMCs leaders still involved in Plant Washington, and some who are still would-be power purchasers, are beginning to work with experts and meeting with organizations like Southern Alliance for Clean Energy to find ways to bring in new energy efficiency programs and make the ones they have more successful. Energy efficiency is the cheapest and easiest way for these EMCs to meet their energy demand without having to build a dirty, expensive, coal fired power plant such as Plant Washington, and it adds value to their overall supply mix. We are striving to make the case that we have the alternatives today and they do not need to move forward with Plant Washington.
A recent energy efficiency report by Georgia Tech stated: “The South has been one of the last regions in the country to embrace energy efficiency programs and to develop an energy-efficiency culture of consumer behavior… The full deployment of these nearly pollution-free [energy efficiency] opportunities could largely offset the growth in energy consumption forecast for the region over the next decade.”
Not only are the alternatives beginning to be seen as more economical, they are also seen as safer options. As we brought to light in a recent letter to the editor in the Savannah Morning News, there is no safe level of mercury that is acceptable to a person’s health, despite what Dean Alford might like you to think. This coal plant would pump over 105 pounds of extra mercury out every year, which would end up in our waterways and the fish that we eat. We don’t think this is acceptable and hope you don’t either.
Power4Georgians continues to feed misinformation to the public about Plant Washington’s impact on Georgia’s air, water, and economy, but we are confident that the truth will prevail. The people of Georgia know that bringing coal to the state is the wrong decision and we need your voice to be a part of the call for change – please join our efforts, sign the petition, and be part of the solution!
It is only a matter of time before Plant Washington is no longer a threat to the health and welfare of Georgia! Learn the facts and make an educated decision about where Georgia’s energy future will best be found.
Here are a few quotes we wanted to share from concerned citizens and community leaders who spoke in Sandersville on October 20th at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division public hearing on the air, water, and waste permits for Plant Washington:
“I’m not opposed to a power plant. I’m opposed to a coal plant. We have alternatives…Let’s put Georgians to work through sustainables and renewables… Coal has too many detrimental effects.”
— Rep. Dubose Porter, State Representative (D-Dublin) and gubernatorial candidate
“Coal plants are dinosaurs. Let’s move into the 21st Century. We must put a greater value on the quality of our air, water, our children and their future.”
— Larry Warthen, lifetime resident of Washington County who lives in Warthen, very close to Sandersville
“I oppose the construction of Plant Washington because I’m a Snapping Shoals customer [an EMC signed on to help finance Plant Washington] and in our current global, environmental, financial and regulatory situation, the business argument for construction does not hold up. …Plant Washington must not be built.”
— Albert “Ab” J. Roesel, Jr., retired high school math teacher in Conyers (Rockdale County)
“As a young person, when I picture the future of Georgia — my future — I see a revived and diversified economy based both on innovation and stewardship. I see Georgia as a national leader and a place where I can not only get a job, but also raise a family.”
— Maura Friedman, student at University of Georgia and a member of GA YES (Georgia Youth for Energy Solutions)
This blog post was written by Mary Carr mcarr[at]cleanenergy.org and Ulla Reeves ulla[at]cleanenergy.org.