Georgia rural power companies to invest $1 billion in three biomass generators

Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008 1:36 PM
Last updated Friday, Oct. 10, 2008 12:53 PM
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ATLANTA -- Georgians getting their electricity from one of 38 electric-membership cooperatives may soon be able to tap into carbon-neutral power thanks to a $1 billion investment in three biomass plants announced today.

Tucker, Ga.-based Oglethorpe Power Corp, the nation’s largest cooperative-owned electric generator, unveiled plans for three 100-megawatt plants to be fueled by pine trees. To be running by 2015, the sites will provide power to the state’s 38 EMCs which serve nearly half the state’s population.

Included are the EMCs in the regions for Coastal Electric, Okefenoke Rural, Jefferson Energy, Coweta-Fayette, Rayle, Planters and others.

No sites have been selected for the plants, but the company is considering five locations in four East Georgia counties: Appling, Echols, Warren and Washington.

Each plant is expected to hire about 50 people but create many more jobs in the timber industry to supply the fuel.

Tom Smith, president and chief executive officer of Oglethorpe Power Corporation, said, “We’re pleased to find an environmentally friendly way to help meet some of our members’ growing demand for electricity.”

Gov. Sonny Perdue was on hand for the announcement, even though the project is getting no funds from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority set up to support environmentally friendly power generation and job creation. Perdue was delighted.

“With our abundant biomass resources, Georgia has the unique opportunity to expand our use of alternative energy, grow our economy and transform the way we provide energy to our citizens,” he said.

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