State Residents Likely to Pay Higher Rates as Georgia Power Continues Push Toward Decarbonization

by T.A. DeFeo


Like power companies nationwide, Georgia Power is working to “decarbonize” its power generation and has committed to adding more green energy over the next decade.

Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company that traces its origins to 1902 as an operator of streetcars in Atlanta, has more than 2.6 million customers across The Peach State, including customers in 155 of Georgia’s 159 counties.

The company owns 14,541 megawatts of regulated generation assets, including coal, gas, hydroelectric, nuclear, oil and solar facilities. About 43.7% of Georgia Power’s energy is from gas and oil, 33.6% is from coal, and 13.6% is from nuclear; the remaining 9.2% is from hydro and other renewables.

In its 2022 Integrated Resource Plan, which the Georgia Public Service Commission approved on July 21, Georgia Power asked to retire approximately 3,600 MW of coal and oil-fired generation by 2028. The company is replacing its coal facilities with “more economical generation” and investing in related transmission infrastructure as it turns to power sources with lower carbon emissions.

The PSC has approved the retirement and decertification of most of the coal units Georgia Power controls. The exception is Plant Bowen near Euharlee, which began commercial operation in 1975.

Plant Bowen’s four coal-fired units can produce 3,376 MW of electricity. Georgia Power said that the PSC is expected to reevaluate Plant Bowen units one and two when Georgia Power submits its next regularly scheduled IRP in 2025.

Georgia Power has shuttered several plants recently, including Plant McDonough-Atkinson near Smyrna in 2011, Harllee Branch Power Plant between Eatonton and Milledgeville in 2015, Plant Kraft in Chatham County in 2015 and Plant Hammond in Floyd County in 2019. At Plant McDonough-Atkinson, the company added three natural gas combined cycle units capable of producing 2,520 MW.

Georgia Power co-owns two nuclear facilities, Plant Hatch near Baxley and Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, which provide about 20% of the electricity used in Georgia. Its sister company, Southern Nuclear, manages the plants.

An expansion of Plant Vogtle is in progress.

The Georgia PSC also approved Georgia Power to buy more than 2,000 MW of capacity via natural gas power purchase agreements (PPAs) in future years.

According to documents filed with the PSC, Georgia Power said it has one of the largest “voluntary renewable portfolios” in the country. Currently, more than 3,100 MW of renewable resources are online, and an additional 2,400 MW of renewable resources are under development.

In the IRP, the company asked to add 2,300 MW of renewable energy resources over the next three years. The company wants to add 6,000 MW of additional renewable resources by 2035.

“Working within our constructive regulatory framework, Georgia Power has continued to develop renewable resources in a way that benefits all customers, positioning the Company as a national leader in renewable energy growth,” Chris Womack, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power, said in testimony filed with the PSC.

Georgia Power wants to increase customer rates by nearly 12% over the next three years.

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T.A. DeFeo is a regular contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Georgia Power” by Warren LeMay.


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