Contact: Jennifer Rennicks, 865-235-1448 or [email protected]
Atlanta, Ga. – Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) thanks the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) for their leadership and approval of Georgia Power Company’s latest long-range energy plan. The final plan, as agreed to through a settlement between Georgia Power and several other parties, including SACE, represents the largest increase in renewable energy ever in Georgia. We believe it is a reasonable compromise that will benefit all Georgia Power ratepayers.
SACE strongly supports well-designed, innovative programs that encourage meaningful supply-side and-demand side renewable energy development in Georgia. During the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) hearings, SACE urged the Commission to require Georgia Power to expand their newly proposed Renewable Energy Development Initiative (REDI). Originally proposed to add just 525 new megawatts (MW) of renewable energy in 2018-2020, the new plan more than triples that amount to 1600 new MW of renewable energy.
“As we’ve seen across the country and here in Georgia with the first solar programs approved in 2013, more renewable energy means more savings for customers,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “These projects cost less than the projected cost of generating power. This plan will set Georgia on a new path forward to grow jobs and compete.”
The Commission also considered, but did not adopt, a motion to further expand the renewable energy component of the plan. SACE and other experts testified that the utility could feasibly add a minimum of 2000 MW of renewable energy without causing any upward pressure on rates. While the new plan does not reach those levels, it is a substantial improvement.
The Commission also approved further steps away from coal. The retirement of Plant Mitchell is now formally approved, and capital expenditures at Plants Hammond and McIntosh are capped. By continuing to reduce Georgia Power’s reliance on dirty coal-fired power plants, we all stand to benefit from improved air quality. This is great news for the health of all Georgians and the climate.
While the approved stipulated plan is an improvement on renewables, the Commission committed ratepayers to a $99 million plus financing costs bill for Georgia Power to investigate and license new nuclear reactors in Georgia. This is bad news for the state. The proposed location for new nuclear is in Stewart County along the Chattahoochee River, increasing the impacts on this already stressed water resource.
SACE is disappointed that Georgia Power and the Commission continue to support this risky, expensive energy resource at ratepayers’ expense when schedule delays and cost overruns have clearly occurred at the under-construction reactors at Plant Vogtle along the Savannah River. Commissioner Bubba McDonald courageously opposed Georgia Power’s costly plan stating, “I don’t see putting ratepayers’ money at risk right now,” but clearly the Commission was unwilling to challenge Georgia Power on the politics of nuclear power.
On a smaller, yet important matter in the case, we are disappointed in the lack of broader support for expenses of Georgia Power’s electric transportation programs. This program, which includes adding new electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure around the state has been an important driver for increasing EVs, eliminating key charging gaps for EV drivers and helping reduce air emissions.
Overall, SACE believes that the Georgia Public Service Commission has shown tremendous leadership in supporting the growth of renewable resources in the state and finding a new path for Georgia’s energy future. We look forward to realizing the benefits of these initiatives.
Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that work to address the impacts of global climate change and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org.