Georgia Power's New Renewable Energy Plan

Georgia Power's New Renewable Energy Plan

Move over coal power plants, because nuclear energy's ready to power the whole state of Georgia.

This is an edited version of original article published by The Signal.

On July 28, the Public Service Commission (PSC) approved Georgia Power’s (GP) long-term utility plan to add around 1,600 Megawatts of new renewable energy capacity – enough to power about 264,000 homes by 2021.

The plan requires 525 megawatts of solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy to be integrated into the system within the next three years. Contracts with outside firms using solar power and renewable energy plants will supply 1,050 megawatts by 2021. Smaller projects around Georgia will also contribute energy.

GP media spokesman John Kraft said that GP wants to use a wide variety of energy sources to provide customers a diversifying mix of reliable, affordable energy.

Currently, 5 percent of Georgia Power’s 1,000 megawatts of energy comes from solar, wind and other renewable energy sources that will expand to a 12 percent share once the Vogtle nuclear power plant expands in Augusta.

“Our major expansion will add two units of plant vogtle,” said Kraft. “Nuclear will play an increasing role around the clock providing emission energy, and the new units are expected to provide power for 60 to 80 years. Nuclear energy can provide energy around the clock.”

Sierra Club’s Chapter Director Ted Terry said he supports Georgia Power’s initiative to increase Georgians’ use of renewable energy but is against the expansion of nuclear power plants.

“It would be better to use large field solar power or other sources of energy instead, because the biggest issue with radioactive waste is how long it takes to degrade,” he said. “Nuclear power plants are costly to insure.”

Terry said the ultimate pathway to renewable energy is “from Midwest wind energy and solar power routes.”

GP will also rely on other sources of renewable energy, such as Georgia’s hydroelectric plants “which are 100 years old now and were some of the first sources of renewable energy,” said Kraft.

However, because Georgia doesn’t have many large rivers, the hydroelectric plants supply limited energy, and other renewable energy sources must make up for that.

“By the end of 2016, we expect to have 1 gigawatt or in other words, 1,000 megawatts of solar energy on our system which is unprecedented for Georgia and puts us near the top tier nationwide,” said Kraft.

“Economical, large-scale solar farms in rural areas will have thousands of acres covered in solar panels. We expect to continue our long term Integrated Resource Plan and follow the Renewable Energy Initiative, which will bring up to 160 megawatts of energy in the recent years to come.”

Wind power will be sourced from wind farms in Oklahoma while biomass will be burned for energy. The methane gases will be captured from burnt, disintegrating biological landfills.

And according to Kraft, environmentally-friendly initiatives don’t always mean higher costs.

“The way we [GP] have approached renewable energy is different from some other states who do it at the cost of their customers. One thing we try to make sure of is that renewable energy expansion will not put upward pressure on rates.”

“For instance, our advanced solar initiative that’s been in place since 2012 was designed so we could go out into the market and have competitive bidding for solar energy. We had solar developers look at what we needed and asked what’s your best price, resulting in great reductions to the cause of solar energy in progress. But you do have to be very careful with how it’s done, because some states have had huge bill increases,” he said.

A majority of the renewable energy will be generated from large-scale utility projects like Vogtle plant, while the rest will be distributed from wind energy and solar panels installed on the rooftops of homes and businesses. Megawatts will also be drawn from Georgia military bases.

Georgia Power’s potential nuclear plants will be evaluated over the next couple of months until 2017, after which the GP estimates it would take about seven years to obtain a plant-building license from the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission which will be followed by a decade of construction.

Now that Georgia’s Public Service Commission has authorized Georgia Power’s plan, several oil-fired and coal-fired plants will be replaced with wind and solar power. Natural gas-fired plants, which follow clean air regulations, may lower the costs of energy raised by operating coal-fired plants.

In 2011, coal generated 62 percent of Georgia Power’s energy supply. Coal energy’s use has been widespread in the United States due to its affordability, but now, GP will invest in cleaner emission technology and turn to renewable energy sources like solar and nuclear power instead. In the future, some coal plants will be converted into natural gas plants, reports Georgia Power.

Other future expansions, projects and goals are mapped out in the 20-year Integrated Resources Plan, which will indirectly affect Georgians’ electricity bills, pollution levels and construction in the state.

Cover Image Credit: Georgia Power

Popular Right Now

22 New Things That I Want To Try Now That I'm 22

A bucket list for my 22nd year.


"I don't know about you but I'm feelin' 22," I have waited 6 long years to sing that and actually be 22! Now 22 doesn't seem like a big deal to people because you can't do anything that you couldn't do before and you're still super young. But I'm determined to make my 22nd year a year filled with new adventures and new experiences. So here's to 22.

Cover Image Credit:

Author's illustration

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

If You Would Just Stop Using Plastic Straws, You Could Save The Planet

The environment truly depends on it.

Did you know? Plastic straws are really bad for the ocean. We use over 500 million every day in America, and most of those end up in our oceans, polluting the water and killing marine life. We want to encourage people to stop using plastic straws for good. If we don't act now, by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

People have come to expect plastic straws in every drink, in an example of extreme waste being generated for minimal convenience. We use straws for around twenty minutes before we toss them away, which is an astonishingly quick lifespan for an item that will be on the planet forever. These short-lived tools are usually dropped into a garbage can with no further thought, instantly becoming a source of plastic pollution.

Why are plastic straws so bad for the environment?

Of the eight million tons of plastic trash that flow every year into the world's oceans, the plastic drinking straw is a top contributor to all that tonnage.

It can be hard to see how using one measly plastic straw is going to cause huge amounts of damage to the environment, but let me put into context for you. Recently a team of scientists in Costa Rica came across an endangered species of sea turtle with what they thought was a parasitic worm blocking its airway. They realized it was actually a plastic straw. Hours from veterinary help, the scientists successfully dislodged the straw themselves and released the turtle back into the ocean.

An estimated 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastics in their stomachs. When they ingest plastic, marine life has a 50% mortality rate. What would our oceans be without marine life?

What's equally as bad, perhaps even worse is that when plastic does make it into the ocean it breaks down into smaller and smaller known as "microplastics" rather than biodegrading or dissolving, which poses great threats to marine life including fish.

You make think that you can recycle plastic straws, but that is not true.

Most plastic straws are too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter. They drop through sorting screens and mix with other materials and are too small to separate, contaminating recycling loads or getting disposed of as garbage.

Plastic straws are made from polypropylene, which is a byproduct of petroleum, a fossil fuel that requires an incredible amount of energy and natural resources to extract and refine. Polypropylene is identifiable by the resin identification code 5 and is commonly recyclable, just often not in drinking straw format. Size is the biggest barrier to straw recycling. As plastic travels down conveyor belts while being sorted, small items like bottle caps and straws fall through the cracks and end up being sent to the landfill.

As of right now, there aren't many (if any) special straw-recycling facilities either, which means when you use a straw, you know that plastic will sit in a landfill for years to come. Most straws are used in a restaurant setting, and it's unlikely you are taking the straw home with you. That means you're relying on either the restaurant to provide a recycling solution for its straws, or your office janitorial staff if you're bringing a soda back to work.

Small and lightweight, straws often never make it into recycling bins; the evidence of this failure is clearly visible on any beach. And although straws amount to a tiny fraction of ocean plastic, their size makes them one of the most insidious polluters because they entangle marine animals and are consumed by fish.

Yes, some people need a straw! Anyone who has had a stroke has autism, MS or other life-changing physical issue needs a straw and there are different alternatives instead of a plastic straw, such as a metal straw.

What can you do?

Educating your friends and family about how silly straws truly are will help motivate them to make the switch to straw-free. I'll admit it; I've used the line "that straw could end up in a turtles nose!" more times than I can count.

It's simple. It's easy. Refuse the straw.

For more information visit these websites:

Cover Image Credit: Dustan Woodhouse

Related Content

Facebook Comments