Atlanta, Ga. – The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy announces its support for Georgia Power Company’s recent proposal to convert Plant Mitchell, a coal-fired power plant in Albany, Ga. to consume 100 percent biomass. This will be one of the largest biomass plants of its kind in the country.
“This project signals an important message about the direction that our energy companies are moving,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “We are pleased that Georgia Power is committing to this option that diversifies its energy supplies.”
SACE is committed to supporting the sustainable use of biomass resources throughout the Southeast. It is estimated that one million tons of wood would be needed annually to fuel the proposed Plant Mitchell conversion. In southwest Georgia, where the plant is located, the area is rich with woody biomass that is currently not utilized. There is an estimated 20 million tons of biomass that is currently not commercially utilized in Georgia.
Georgia Power must receive approval from the Public Service Commission for the proposal. The first hearing on the proposal will be Dec. 2-3, 2008, followed by public hearings Jan. 20-21, 2009. A ruling on the proposal is expected March 2009. Once approved, Georgia Power estimates that they will begin retrofitting the plant in 2011 and begin producing electricity in 2012.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy supports this important conversion proposal for the following reasons:
– This project is better for the environment. Biomass-to-electricity plants have less sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions than coal-fueled electricity. Also, when the trees harvested for energy are re-planted, the project captures carbon emissions and helps fight global warming pollution.
– The project is cost-effective for ratepayers. The converted plant would have lower fuel and operating costs in comparison to continued use of coal. The plant will diversify Georgia Power’s energy mix by supporting greater renewable energy development, helping prevent potential rate increases.
– This project will support economic development in the state. Wood markets have been declining in recent years and it is estimated that this plant alone would create 50-75 new jobs in forestry, logging, biomass delivery, and support. In addition, every ton of coal we avoid importing is that much more money we keep in-state. Georgia spent $2.3 billion on coal in 2006, and the current coal prices have increased significantly over the past few years.
“Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is committed to working with Georgia Power to bring this project to fruition,” said Anne Blair, diesel and bioenergy program manager. “This is an important opportunity to demonstrate renewable energy, using our own resources, in the state and throughout the region.” # # #