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Gulf Power's Lansing Smith Plant

Gulf Power’s Lansing Smith Plant

Even though dependence on coal has declined over the past decade it is still a significant part of our energy mix in the Southeast. Coal-fired power accounted for 39% of the electricity generated in the Southeast in 2013. The Southeast is home to roughly 270 coal-fired electric generating units at 82 coal plants. In 2012 alone, these coal plants emitted more than 366 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants comprise one-third of our total national carbon emissions and are the main contributor to climate disruption that causes extreme weather, such as drought, floods and superstorms.

Historically coal has been thought of as “cheap power,” the true cost of coal is extraordinary when we factor in the costs to human health and the environment. 72% of all toxic water pollution comes from coal-fired power plants, making these plants the number one source of toxic water pollution in the United States. In our region alone, we have over 118 billion gallons of toxic coal ash waste in 450 impoundments, which are dangerous to nearby communities and roadways and many are contaminating nearby groundwater and surface water. Coal plants also affect water quantity with a typical coal plant consuming 1.1 billion gallons of water per year.

Hazardous air pollution, like sulfur dioxide, from coal-fired power plants can cause asthma, heart disease, respiratory disease and a myriad of other ailments. Overall, pollution from coal plants contributes to four of the top five causes of death in the United States and is responsible for increasing the incidence of major disease in a large portion of the nation’s population.

Please take the time to learn more about how coal-fired generation impacts our world and your community. Find out how you can help SACE phase out coal-fired power plants in the Southeast.

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Federal Subsidies for Fossil Fuels

Government subsidies for energy industries –whether for oil, coal, nuclear or renewable energy sources – are typically intended to help nascent industries or businesses get a toehold in the marketplace without extending excessive initial capital. In reality, though, subsidies often become an expected source of financial support, especially for the producers themselves ultimately locking in dirty energy profits and falsely altering the markets. While…

Alabama Coal Plants

Coal has powered Alabama for more than a century. But as we take steps to protect our land, our water, and our health, and as less expensive alternatives become available, it's time to move away from coal. Alabama's coal plants are old – the oldest generator turned 64 in 2013, and the median age of generating units is 53 (plants are generally intended to…

Energy Equity and the 2013 Georgia Power Integrated Resource Plan

Thanks to advocacy from an unprecedented range of community members and leadership from Commissioners McDonald, Everett, and Echols, Georgia will be getting a whole lot more solar energy in the next three years. Please read our blog re-capping the outcome of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) process, and stay tuned to the blog and our action alerts for updates on future opportunities to get…

Coal Ash in the Southeast

If clean water is important to you and your family, you need to know about a silent danger to our waterways and public health. Coal ash, the waste left over after coal is burned to generate power, contains concentrated amounts of heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium, and selenium, which are hazardous to human health and to wildlife. Despite this danger, coal…

Ripe for Retirement: Costliest Coal Plants

The Union of Concerned Scientists’ national report examines and evaluates the economic viability of our nation’s existing coal-fired electricity generating units and recommends the closure and retirement of uneconomically viable coal-fired generation units. In the Southeast, 121 units at 61 plants are deemed uneconomical for continued operation in the UCS estimates. Many of the coal plants identified as ripe for retirement are older, less…

Plant Washington

Urgent Action Update: Tell EPA to limit Plant Washington's carbon emissions in its new rules! Deadline May 9, 2014. In 2008, nine of Georgia's Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs) formed a consortium called Power4Georgians, LLC with the main purpose of building a new 850 MW coal-fired power plant in Sandersville, GA called Plant Washington. Power4Georgians was also considering building a second 850 MW coal plant…

Energy & Water In a Warming World Report

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy along with partners across the Southeast are working with the Union of Concerned Scientists through the Energy & Water in a Warming World Initiative (EW3) to highlight the energy water nexus. In July 2013, the EW3 initiative, led by the Union of Concerned Scientists, released a dynamic new report, Water-Smart Power: Strengthening the U.S. Electricity System in a…

Dirty Energy & Climate’s Disproportionate Impacts

Statistics show that African Americans and other persons of color struggle with an array of disproportionate impacts - from health to economic to climate vulnerability - directly associated with dirty energy sources here in the Southeast. Health Impacts to Low Income Communities and Communities of Color Statistics show that African Americans and other persons of color are plagued with an array of health conditions…

Carbon Pollution & the Clean Air Act

Our nation's energy sector generates one third of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, and carbon dioxide accounts for about 84% of U.S. greenhouse gases (GHGs), making it the nation’s largest contributor to climate change. The Southeast disproportionately contributes to national carbon pollution levels due to its abundance of coal-fired power plants. In 2012, over 366 million tons of carbon dioxide were emitted from roughly 270…

Tennessee Valley Authority Coal

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) provides power to 9 million people in seven Southeastern states. TVA generates electricity from a number of different energy generation sources including coal, renewables, hydroelectric, nuclear and natural gas. Coal has historically been the single largest source in TVA’s energy portfolio. In 2010, around 51% of TVA’s electricity came from coal. Thanks to a number of factors, in the…

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Stop the Washington Coal Plant

If you live in Georgia you need to know about what could soon be consuming more of our water and polluting our air. A group of Georgia utilities is trying to build the first coal plant inGeorgia in 20 years. The coal plant, called “Plant Washington”, willcost more than $2 billion, use 13-16 million gallons of water daily,and spew enough global warming pollution to…

Related Podcasts

Telepresser – Discussing the need for federal coal ash regulations

April 23, 2014 - This news conference discusses the recent meeting with EPA Region 4 officials about the lack of coal ash protections despite multiple disasters in the Southeast. Speakers included: Emily Feinberg, Waterkeeper Alliance Ulla Reeves, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Kemp Burdette, Cape Fear Riverkeeper Sarah McCoin, Resident of Swan Pond, near Kingston, TN Frank Holleman, Southern Environmental Law Center

Dan River Coal Ash Spill: Our Southern Community Part II

March 30, 2014--Ned Ryan Doyle, host of Our Southern Community interviews SACE staffers Ulla Reeves and Joan Walker to delve in to the details of the Dan River coal ash spill. The show covers a detailed timeline of the tragedy from the initial spill of Feb. 2 including the relationships between DENR, Duke Energy, Gov. McCroy and the unfolding investigation by the Dept. of…

Dan River Coal Ash Spill: Our Southern Community Part I

March 30, 2014--Ned Ryan Doyle, host of Our Southern Community interviews SACE staffers Ulla Reeves and Joan Walker to delve in to the details of the Dan River coal ash spill. The show covers a detailed timeline of the tragedy from the initial spill of Feb. 2 including the relationships between DENR, Duke Energy, Gov. McCroy and the unfolding investigation by the Dept. of…

Webinar: UCS- Ripe for Retirement Webinar

Please join us on November 14, 2012 at 11:00 am EST for a webinar outlining the findings of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Report “Ripe for Retirement: The Case for Closing America’s Costliest Coal Plants.” Today, more than three-quarters of U.S. coal-fired power plants are well past their 30-year life span, with 17% of those plants being over 50 years old. These older plants…