Georgia Power Buys Wind Energy from Oklahoma
(APN) ATLANTA — Georgia Power boldly goes where everyone else has already been, this week announcing its first purchase of wind energy to be included as part of the energy mix that serves Georgia consumers: 250 megawatts (MW) of wind energy from EDP Renewables North America’s wind farms in southwest Oklahoma.
Over 50,000 Georgia homes and businesses can now be powered by clean wind energy starting in 2016.
The US wind industry now totals 60,007 MW of cumulative wind capacity–and more than 45,100 turbines–through the end of December 2012. During 2012, wind energy became the number one source of new US electricity generating capacity for the first time, providing some 42 percent of all new generating capacity according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Wind power prices in the US averaged four to six cents a kilowatt-hour in 2010, making it one of the cheapest renewable energy technologies on the market, according to the US Department of Energy.
The Southeast lags behind the rest of the US in wind development and usage. A few southern states are conservatively beginning to buy into the cheap, clean wind market.
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, last year, Alabama Power, a Southern Company subsidiary like Georgia Power, signed contracts to purchase 400 MW from a Kansas wind farm.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is already purchasing more than 1,500 MW of clean wind energy from the mid-west, according to a joint press release from GreenLaw and the Sierra Club Georgia Chapter.
Compared to wind energy used in other states Georgia’s entry is a baby step into the wind industry. Wind turbines emit no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. This is an important step forward to ensure a clean environment and better public health for Georgia citizens.
Environmental advocates have worked hard and lobbied for years to bring clean alternative energy to Georgia. It seems their efforts are finally beginning to produce positive results. The wind industry will bring clean energy to Georgia, which can replace power generated from dirty fuels like coal, nuclear, and natural gas.
“We applaud Georgia Power’s move in the right direction. Adding wind power not only allows for more consumer choice, a more diversified energy portfolio and thus keeps rates stable over the long term, but helps clean up our air. What’s more, wind power uses no water, so this helps make sure we have enough water supply for our farmers. We look forward to working with Georgia Power to bring even more clean, stable wind power to our state,” Ashten Bailey, a staff attorney for GreenLaw, said in the statement.
“Georgia does not have a single commercial wind turbine operating today, yet the wind industry is still creating jobs for Georgians, who go to work designing and building turbine components, as well as engineering wind energy transmission. Clean energy is Georgia’s greatest untapped job creator, so the Sierra Club is so pleased to see Georgia Power taking positive steps forward to bring more clean energy to Georgia and to grow this vital economic sector,” Eleanor Hand, chair of the Smart Energy Committee of the Georgia Sierra Club, said in the statement.
Georgia’s wind potential is greatest in the mountain regions of North Georgia and coastal regions, which offer the greatest promise for state wind development.
A study conducted by Southern Company and Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute in 2007 identified locations off the coasts of Jekyll and Tybee Islands to be well suited as an offshore wind farm location.
In 2010, Towns County Schools became the first Georgia public school to install a wind turbine on campus. The project was the result of a partnership between Towns County Schools, Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Cooperative, and the Georgia Wind Working Group (GWWG).
In 2012, the Tybee Island City Council—an active member of the GWWG—adopted a local resolution to support wind energy development. The resolution recognizes the importance of the vast coastal wind resource and the opportunity for affordable, clean, renewable energy, and economic development.
For more information on wind potential in Georgia www.gawwg.org
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory the contiguous United States has the potential for 10,459 GW of onshore wind power. The capacity could generate 37 petawatt-hours (PW-h) annually, an amount nine times larger than current total US electricity consumption.
This does not include large US wind resources in Alaska, Hawaii, nor offshore wind power.
“We need to send powerful Georgia Power a big hooray every time they do the right thing,” Glenn Carroll, Coordinator, Nuclear Watch South, told APN.
“Why are Georgia electric customers paying a hefty tax–Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery–to protect Georgia Power from the investment risk of building two old fashioned poison power nuclear plants, while Oklahoma gets clean wind turbines?” Carroll asked.
As previously reported by APN, Georgia Power also recently announced an expansion in its use of solar power.
Earlier this year, the company introduced the Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative (GPASI), which will contract for up to 210 MW of solar capacity through long-term purchase power agreements with Georgia Power customers and solar developers.
The GPASI will likely create the largest voluntarily developed solar portfolio from an investor-owned utility, the company noted, “voluntarily” being the key word. Many US states set renewable energy targets that utility companies must meet, although Georgia does not.
“We are continuously evaluating energy options that provide the best overall economic value to our customers,” Paul Bowers, President and CEO of Georgia Power, said in a statement. “Adding wind energy to our generation mix underscores our commitment to a diverse portfolio that offers clean, safe, reliable, sustainable and low-cost electricity for years to come.”
When both the GPASI and the new wind purchases come online, the total contribution of solar and wind energy to Georgia’s energy mix will increase from less than one percent today, to just under three percent, Seth Gunning, Organizing Associate of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign, told APN.
Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, and serves 2.4 million customers in all but four of Georgia’s 159 counties.