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.
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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

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Wake Up America

We need to take a stand.
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In just this year alone (which has been 52 days) there have been 18 shootings. In schools. That have YOUR children inside of them. And there is absolutely nothing done about it by lawmakers either in the state or government. 

Every time I open Facebook, there are more and more articles talking about gun violence and how there should be control on what guns people can have. I just finished reading an article explaining how in Florida, the state where the most recent and deadliest school shooting of the year occurred, lawmakers passed an act declaring pornography to have health risks that must be attended to but passing up on legislation to have better controls on guns within the state. The shooting occurred in your state. It injured and killed your children, your neighbors, your relatives, your friends. It’s amazing to see how far people will go to protect an amendment in the constitution that was created over 220 years ago.

The right to bear arms should not infringe on a person’s right to live. 

Especially not a child’s. 

There is no reason that a child should feel unsafe going to school, which is something they are required to do by law. The second that a person is able to walk into a school building with an AR-15 assault rifle, it is so unbelievably clear that there is something wrong with that situation. Why does anyone even need an assault rifle as a layman in society? What is the point? In the majority of the massive shootings, not only in schools, an AR-15 was the weapon of choice. America needs to wake up and realize that this weapon is doing nothing but killing people in society. If the military uses it to protect and serve, that’s fine, but allowing anyone to own and carry one is ridiculous and dangerous. 

The 17 people who were killed in Florida deserve more than to have their lives cut short because of a kid with an assault rifle. These children, educators, and coaches were doing as society says they are supposed to, and they were gunned down for what reason? Had the gunman not had access to an assault rifle would he have done it? Could all of these lives have been saved?

This country is all about freedoms, but the extent that gun freedom is taken to is outrageous. When guns evolved from one round shotguns and handguns to semi-automatic assault rifles, the controls on these guns needs to evolve with it. We, as Americans, as students, as parents, as members of society, need to take control of our own futures and limit the opportunities that are available for us to be killed by guns. We all need to wake up and make a change, because it’s not fair that innocent people are losing their lives because someone is angry and has access to a murderous weapon.

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Vietnam Wants to Realize the Single ASEAN Visa Policy

Know about Vietnam Visa
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The ASEAN single visa system has been promoted by many governments as a crucial pillar in promotingtourism across the region. In 2013, a tourismministerial meeting was held in Ho Chi Minh City. The meetingbroughttogethertourism ministers from Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam. There were a number of issues that were tabled and discussed but the idea of launching a single common visa to facilitatetourism among these countries was at the top of the agenda.

Vietnam, in particular, has been working very hard to build its tourism industry. During the ASEAN Tourism Forum that was held in the Philippines last year, tourism leaders from Vietnam confirmed that the country was implementing a series of programs with a significant degree of intensity in a bid to become an attractive tourist destination for ASEAN member countries. Vietnamalso confirmed that it was undertaking measures to facilitate the growth of domestic tourism.

The ASEAN community of countries has also adopted a tourismstrategic plan that aims to promotegrowth in the industry. The plan is called the ASEAN TourismStrategy 2016-2025 and it lays down a number of key objectives and responsibilities for each individualmember country.Vietnam,for example,isimplementing the mutual recognition agreement on tourism workers. The agreement is designed to promote standards in the tourism laboramong member countries of the ASEAN community.

The country hasalso adopted the ASEAN standards ofcertification for green hotels, public toilets, residential accommodation, as well as community-based tourism initiatives that maximize benefits for locals. Vietnam is alsopursuing greater cooperation with other ASEAN countries in developing nature tourism in the region. There is also talk of accelerating growth in cultural and heritage tourism, waterway tourism, andcruise tourism. 

However, a common Vietnam visa with other ASEAN nations is seen as one of the keycomponents that will actualize these targets. The visa program will largelyfollow the Schengen European model. The model allows visitors in Europe to apply for a visa in the country they arrive in or the country they plan to stay longer. They can also apply for a visa in the country they purpose to visit. This means that tourists in Europe do not need to apply for a visa in every country they visit. The Schengen visa agreement covers 26 countries in the European Union. 

The ASEAN countries are looking to develop a similar visa program to target non-ASEAN tourists coming to the region. Although there will be challenges in harmonizing the immigration lawsand statutes of each country, there is a willingness among member countries to move forward with this. 

The tourism industry is very crucial for ASEAN countries. It contributes to at least 12% of the GDP and createsmillions of jobs. A single ASEAN tourism visa could help increase growth in the industry by facilitating more arrivals. The system will also be ideal for improving relationsbetween the member countries. Such cordial relations will help facilitate domestic tourism too. Vietnam has said many times that the potential of its tourism industry is huge and measures such as the single visa system can convert that potential to real growth. 

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