Old-coal retirement approved, Georgia Power neglects investment in local community

Posted on March 21, 2012 by

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Sierra Club Applauds Decision, Calls for Additional Retirements and Clean Energy Investments

Atlanta, GA – Today, the Georgia Public Service Commission approved the retirement of two coal-burning units at ImageGeorgia Power’s Plant Branch in Putnam County, and one oil-fired unit at Plant Mitchell near Albany. Sierra Club welcomes the news of the retirements, which will close some of the dirtiest coal burners in Georgia. However, the Sierra Club views Georgia Power’s choice to defer a decision on the retirement of additional old and polluting coal burners as saddling ratepayers with unnecessary expenses which keeps Georgians tied to old, dirty, forms of power.

“Pollution from Plant Branch has been making Putnam county residents ill for nearly 50 years. My mother lives less than a mile from Plant Branch’s smokestacks, and suffers from three forms of cancer. Retiring such an old and polluting plant is good for my community and for my family. Georgia Power must take responsibility for its pollution and for the impact its plants have had on families like mine, and retiring these plants are the first step,” said Lisa Massari, a Sierra Club supporter, nurse, and former Putnam County resident.

Today’s decision retires two coal-burning units at Plant Branch, with a total of 569 megawatts of capacity, and one unit oil-fired unit at Plant Yates, with 33 megawatts of capacity. Georgia Power’s over-reliance on coal-fired power has caused it to fall far behind other utilities what have invested in reliable, clean energy production. The company’s continued use of coal in lieu of cleaner forms of electricity is costing ratepayers as coal becomes more and more expensive.

“Georgia Power’s continued use of dirty, outdated fossil fuels like coal and natural gas is strangling Georgia’s job market. At a time when communities are most in need of good jobs, Georgia Power is deciding to prioritize profits over smart energy investments that could help meet demand affordably, and create thousands of good jobs in Georgia communities,”   said Seth Gunning, Associate Organizing Representative with Sierra Club. “Energy efficiency and clean energy projects also create more jobs per dollar spent than coal plants. If Georgia Power, the PSC, and state leadership were truly interested in creating jobs and moving Georgia into the twenty-first century, they would prioritize energy efficiency and clean energy.”

Georgia Power chose to defer a decision to retire an additional 2,000 megawatts of coal-capacity, largely from Plant Yates (1,250 megawatts capacity) near Newnan, Georgia, despite extensive company analysis which indicated that continued operation of existing coal units was uneconomical.

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