Georgia Power Announces Closure of Power Plants Science Group Identified As Ripe For Retirement

Statement by Steve Frenkel, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jan 8, 2013

CHICAGO (January 8, 2012) — Georgia Power stated yesterday that it expects to request approval from the Georgia Public Service Commission to retire 15 coal- and oil-fired generating units totaling 2,061 megawatts—an announcement that reaffirms the recent Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) analysis “Ripe for Retirement: The Case for Closing America’s Costliest Coal Plants," which showed that all of the named coal-fired units should be considered for closure.

Below is a statement by Steve Frenkel, co-author of the report and director of the UCS Midwest office:

“It’s good news that Georgia Power plans to close these coal-fired units. Georgia leads the nation with the most coal-fired energy generating capacity that should be considered for closure. Our analysis indicated that it would likely be less expensive for the company to burn natural gas or use wind power to generate electricity than to invest in their obsolete coal plants. It’s good news for Georgia consumers that Georgia Power realized that spending billions to upgrade old coal plants may simply be throwing good money after bad.

“UCS’s analysis showed that all the coal-fired generators that Georgia Power will now shut down were economically vulnerable. Georgia Power stated in its announcement that part of its decision was based on the changing economic landscape. Burning coal is no longer the cheapest way to produce electricity. Going forward, natural gas, wind power and other renewables, as well as investments in energy efficiency, are all better options for consumers.

“While Georgia Power’s announcement is a significant step forward, the state’s utility regulators should carefully review Georgia Power’s plans to invest in new power generation and carefully consider whether ratepayers would be better off if the company went further to retire other economically vulnerable coal generators and instead boosted electricity generation from natural gas and renewable energy sources.

“I’m glad to hear Georgia Power say it will have a more diverse fuel portfolio, including renewables and energy efficiency—the two best weapons in a utility’s arsenal to both save consumers money and fight global warming.

“Our Ripe for Retirement report ranked the states and utilities with the most coal-fired power capacity that should be considered for closure. Georgia topped the state list, followed by Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana, Mississippi and Virginia. Southern Company, Georgia Power’s parent company and one of the nation’s largest private utilities, had the most coal-fired capacity ready for retirement, followed by government-owned Tennessee Valley Authority. Duke Energy, American Electric Power and FirstEnergy, though high on the list, had fewer economically vulnerable generators, in part, because they each already announced they were closing several coal generators.”