Georgia Power says pollution rules may close plants

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ATLANTA  — The largest electric utility in Georgia said Thursday it must purchase power from outside suppliers in the coming years because pending anti-pollution rules may force the company to close or upgrade some of its existing plants.

Georgia Power, the biggest subsidiary of the Atlanta-based Southern Co., asked state utility regulators to approve those purchases as part of an updated plan to meet the electricity needs of its nearly 2.4 million customers starting in 2015. The plan does not publicly disclose how much money its customers would pay to upgrade plants, buy additional energy and cover other costs.

"The complete effect of a host of new federal environmental regulations is still being assessed, but Georgia Power's actions are a necessary and preliminary part of responding to the negative economic and reliability challenges created by new and proposed federal regulations," said a statement by Greg Roberts, Georgia Power's vice president of pricing and planning.

The elected members of the Public Service Commission, who regulate utilities, must decide whether to approve the plan within six months, PSC spokesman Bill Edge said. The commission has not yet set a schedule for its review. These plans are filed every three years.

State law permits Georgia Power to bill its customers for cost of running its electricity system. Once state regulators decide whether to approve the utility's plan, Georgia Power will seek permission to alter it prices accordingly in mid-2013, Georgia Power spokesman Christy Ihrig said. The new rates would take affect starting in 2014.

Facing tighter pollution controls, Georgia Power is leaning toward converting some coal plants to natural gas, which burns cleaner and would not require as many regulations. The pending rules have the greatest impact and coal- and oil-fired plants.

Company officials said they must see a final version of multiple rules proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before deciding the long-term fate of six of its power plants. Of those plants, Georgia Power said it now believes it can continue to use Plant Kraft because it is capable of running on natural gas. The plant also burns coal and fuel oil.

Plant McIntosh Unit 1 near Rincon could be converted from burning coal to natural gas, the company said. Georgia Power had previously debated converting the plant's fuel to biomass, but it does not believe federal regulations for biomass plants will be completed in time to get the plant back online by 2015. The power company said it could also switch the fuel oil burned at Plant McManus Units 1 and 2 near Brunswick to meet stricter pollution rules.

As part of its plan, Georgia Power formally requested permission to retire two coal-burning generators at Plant Branch in Milledgeville, a move the power company first announced in March. It also asked to retire an oil-burning facility at Plant Mitchell in Albany that broke in late 2009.

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robaroo
730
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robaroo 08/04/11 - 07:29 pm
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Coal fired plants - what a

Coal fired plants - what a mess. But we need electricity and the US has all the coal it could ever want.

Maybe Georgia Power could work out a deal to pay some of the costs of lung cancer and respiratory ailments patients in exchange for keeping the plants running.

Little Lamb
45816
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Little Lamb 08/04/11 - 08:42 pm
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Georgia Power is learning

Georgia Power is learning public relations from the master, one Barak Hussein Obama, mmm, mmm, mmm.

Ever since the Obama administration tempted and then won Georgia Power to accept federal loan guarantees for the expansion at Plant Vogtle nuclear facility, Georgia Power has learned how to play "rope-a-dope" with the Public Service Commission.

To shut down perfectly good coal-burning plants because of proposed or threatened tighter regulations and to replace that lost generation with purchased power from the wholesale market will sock the consumer in the gullet.

America must come to its senses and defeat Obama in 2012. Our air conditioning bills cannot stand four more years.

dichotomy
32714
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dichotomy 08/04/11 - 10:24 pm
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The number one enemy of the

The number one enemy of the United States, the EPA, is going to drive the cost of energy so high that we will have to turn off our air conditioning in a few years. I guess we can all ride around with the windows down in our 56 mpg pregnant rollerskates to keep cool. Aren't you tired of having this crap shoved down your throat by some agency that nobody elected?

commonsense-is-endangere
43
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commonsense-is-endangere 08/04/11 - 10:45 pm
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And what about the polluters

And what about the polluters that you can see and smell next to the river?

Batman
18
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Batman 08/04/11 - 10:52 pm
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This video says it all.

This video says it all. Straight from the horses mouth... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlTxGHn4sH4

robaroo
730
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robaroo 08/04/11 - 10:59 pm
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Whoa, lambchops and dyke.

Whoa, lambchops and dyke. EPA is working on the tradeoffs. So I'm not all that tired of having these regulations shoved down my throat. For now, I still have a healthy enough throat.

The issue is finances vs clean air. I like cheap electricity. I also like not having asthma. So, where do you draw the line? The net cost to the US has to include lost productivity as well as electricity.

Maybe China has the right answer - contaminated baby formula is really cheap. If your kid is unlucky enough to get something from it, it's your tough luck.

The trial lawyers will love weak environmental laws. They can claim every case of respiratory ailments is due to GA Power. And GA Power's customers will have to pay for the legal expenses to defend and the awards when the lawyers find a sympathetic jury.

double_standard
166
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double_standard 08/04/11 - 11:34 pm
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Actually the regulations are

Actually the regulations are a cover up for what's really going on. GA Power does not want to hire any more people than they currently have. So they close a few plants most of the employees are a part of the union and they will be moved to other locations if they choose too.

sewerbabe
71
Points
sewerbabe 08/05/11 - 09:06 am
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After reading all of the

After reading all of the comments (I've yet 2 see the you tube video link) it is clear that a lot of what is contained in the article is pure politics. Clean coal technology is a joke. Move to Kentucky and see what you think. Also years ago I heard that power generated at Plant Vogtle was being sold to Florida, If that's still the case, why don't we keep the power generated here in Georgia. Now about job loss. How many jobs were lost to smart meter installation? Which btw are causing a few electrical disturbances in the home.

Little Lamb
45816
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Little Lamb 08/05/11 - 11:45 am
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Robaroo wrote: I like cheap

Robaroo wrote:

I like cheap electricity. I also like not having asthma.

People do not remember how dirty the air was in industrial cities in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. There were few pollution controls on factories and few limits on pollutants.

Since the Clean Air Act was enacted in the 70s, the air in the United States has gotten cleaner.

The curious thing is that as the air has gotten cleaner, as the pollutant limits have been tightened by EPA, the incidence of asthma has gone up! That is true for both childhood asthma and asthmatic symptoms in adults.

It may be that we need a certain amount of pollution to keep us from exhibiting asthma symptoms.

Little Lamb
45816
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Little Lamb 08/05/11 - 05:50 pm
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Georgia Power's statement to

Georgia Power's statement to the Public Safety Commission is reason enough to vote Obama out in 2012 and to vote for a Republican-majority Senate. If we get a moderate to head the EPA instead of today's environmental whacko, we might have a change for reasonably priced energy. Otherwise, hold on to your wallet for electricity, gasoline, diesel fuel, and natural gas to heat your home. Their prices will rise out of sight.

Little Lamb
45816
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Little Lamb 08/06/11 - 04:30 pm
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If the current head of the

If the current head of the EPA moves ahead with rulemaking that makes "Cap and Trade" of carbon emissions a reality, the American consumer will realize the greatest increase in energy prices ever realized anywhere in the world. The government would set the "cap," and would set the initial price of the initial offering of the credits. Each three or four years, the "cap" would be reduced, making the credits more and more expensive — a squeeze play to hurt the consumer. We must have a Republican president in 2013 or we slowly return to the dark ages.

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