Georgia Power Seeks to Decertify Coal Plant #3 at Plant Mitchell

(APN) ATLANTA — Georgia Power plans to shut down its dirty coal-fired Unit 3 at Plant Mitchell in Albany, Georgia.  The company is also cancelling its proposed conversion of the unit to biomass after analysis deemed it not cost effective for customers.

If the decertification request to the Public Service Commission is approved, it will be retired by April 16, 2015.  This is the compliance date of the Untied States Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Rule.

The stricter MATS standards were issued by the EPA on December 2011, the first national standards to address toxic air emissions from coal-fired power plants.

“At one point there were 11 Coal Fired Power Plants in Georgia.  Three of those have since been slated for retirement (Mitchell, Kraft, and Branch). Plant Yates, unit 1-5 are also being retired, while units 5-7 are being fuel switched to natural gas. Plant McDonough- in Smyrna- has also retired its coal units and switched to Natural Gas.  So, including plants that have been retrofitted to burn Natural Gas instead of coal, we’ve seen the retirement of 5 coal units in just as many years,” Seth Gunning, Beyond Coal Organizer, told APN.

Georgia Power’s recent announcement is the first time Plant Mitchell has been up for decertification.

“160 Coal units, representing 65 gigawatts of power, have been slated for retirement [nationwide] since the start of the Beyond Coal campaign.  We have 360 to go.  In that same time, we’ve added 66 gigawatts of clean renewable energy to the electricity grid through wind and solar” Gunning said.

Retiring one dirty coal-burning plant will prevent more than 29 premature deaths, 47 heart attacks, 146 asthma attacks and 22 asthma emergency room visits.   Coal burning is responsible for nearly one-third of U.S. carbon emissions—the air pollution that is the main contributor to climate disruption.according to the Sierra Club coal victories website.

Georgia Power is in the midst of a significant transition to the company’s generation fleet. As part of its 2013 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the company received approval from the PSC to decertify and retire more than 2,000 MW of coal- and oil-fired generation at facilities across the state.  By 2017, the company is expected to have more than 2,300 MW of generation from renewable sources in operation or under contract including hydro, biomass, landfill gas, solar and wind generation as reported in their press release.


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