Georgia Power Cancels Biomass Plans

by | Jan 21, 2014

Greenhouse 100 indexGeorgia Power is abandoning plans to convert a coal-fired unit to biomass after finding that the conversion would not be cost-effective for customers.

The utility – part of Southern Company – first proposed converting Unit 3 at Plant Mitchell in southern Dougherty County, Ga., in 2008. It has now decided to retire the 155 MW unit by April 2015 – the compliance date of the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, the Albany (Ga.) Herald reports.

Factors reducing the project’s value included the economic downturn, lower natural gas prices, and increased capital and environmental compliance costs.

Georgia Power recently announced plans to retire more than 2,000 MW of coal- and oil-fired generation across Georgia, and expects to have more than 2,300 MW of renewable capacity in operation or under contract by 2017.

Southern Company’s other initiatives to tackle emissions include the $5 billion power plant with carbon capture it is developing in Kemper County, Miss. The company also opened the 100 MW Nacogdoches Generating Facility – which the company called the nation’s largest biomass plant – in Texas in 2012.

That year, Target Rock Advisors ranked Southern as the seventh most sustainable utility, in an index of high performance companies.

But the utility was also named last June as the third-largest emitter of GHGs in the US, by researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 2012 it emerged that the top three GHG-emitting facilities in the country are all power plants owned by Southern Company.

And an Environmental Integrity Project report found Southern’s Gaston Steam Plant in Alabama was the country’s second-largest source of power plant mercury emissions in 2011.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

Chart credit: Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts Amherst (story here)

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