SACE Input on the Georgia Power IRP (Integrated Resource Plan)

SACE formally intervenes in the Georgia Power IRP (Integrated Resource Plan) process. This blog summarizes our recommendations for expanding energy efficiency and renewables in the plan.

Kate Tracy, Bryan Jacob, and Amy Rawe | May 20, 2019 | Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Georgia, Solar, Utilities, Wind

3-2-1: It’s time to change how Georgia approaches its energy resource portfolio.

What’s happening?

Every 3 years, Georgia Power – the largest investor-owned utility in Georgia – proposes an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) which is a long-term plan for what energy resources will be used in the coming years. Each time an IRP is proposed, legal proceedings occur, so that utility regulators can offer a formal review of a utility’s proposed plan for power generation and energy efficiency.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) formally intervenes in this process and participated in hearings this past week in Atlanta to offer our expertise on how Georgia can push for a more forward and progressive energy policy across the state that affects all residents.  Our submitted testimony, along with that of our allies, will be reviewed and considered by the Georgia Public Service Commission in their decision-making process.

Why does this matter to Georgia ratepayers?

Georgians should care about the IRP process because the final IRP approved by the PSC will not only determine what our energy mix will be in the coming years but also how much it will cost ratepayers. If the Commission approves an IRP that continues to rely on high risk or dirty energy, like nuclear or coal, Georgians could experience higher rates on their energy bills, as well as the negative health and environmental costs associated with coal plants.

A utility company’s energy resource mix affects all residents in Georgia, even if they aren’t Georgia Power customers since it influences power generation across the state.

What we’d like to see:

In simplest terms, we’re recommending at least:
  • 3 gigawatts (GW) of solar
  • 2 times as much energy efficiency and
  • 1 fundamental change in how the resource plans are developed to let all resources “compete” and trust the modeling to compose optimal resource portfolios

Now let’s get nitty-gritty with the details.

A more diverse resource mix

Georgia Power’s plan fails to acquire all cost-effective renewable energy such as solar. Additionally, we see a lack of commitment to energy efficiency programs. This means customers are paying for more energy than they actually need to use. 

It also falls short of the aspirations of Southern Company’s low-to-no carbon pledge. This inconsistency was raised by a number of intervening parties. The plan should be revised to include more of the carbon-free resources that Georgia Power’s parent company aspires to.

The proposed 2019 IRP only includes 1,000 MW of solar. This is considerably less than the 1,600 MW in the IRP approved three years ago (2016). And their own modeling shows that an additional 4,800 MW of solar can be deployed on the Georgia Power system in the near term. (Some alternative modeling indicates an even higher potential for solar.) SACE is calling for the commission to at least triple Georgia Power’s proposed solar capacity.

Consumer Equity

Georgia Power’s plan fails to include substantial, cost-sensitive programs to address the energy burdens affecting so many of its customers. Many of us have heard from Southern Company and Georgia Power staff that they share our concerns and sensitivity to these issues, but the plan does not reflect those conversations. The plan should be revised to provide budget, performance goals, programs, or other firm commitments that will meaningfully reduce the scale of energy burden impacts on Georgia Power low-income customers.

Business Model Evolution

Both Southern Company and Georgia Power have acknowledged the rapidly evolving energy landscape. However, Georgia Power’s plan only begins to scratch the surface of smoothing the way for the adoption of new and emerging clean energy technologies and behaviors. Incremental steps forward and research projects are vitally important but the foundations for long-term success must also be laid. Examples include evaluating the full range of renewable and demand-side resources in each IRP, using all-source procurements, and the methodology used to establish and apply the additional sum. The plan should be revised to include refinement of at least one foundation piece that will enable both Georgia Power and its customers to realize the shared benefits of an accelerated and equitable transition to clean energy for many years to come.

Want to watch the proceedings?

Want to dive deeper?

And here are the entire dockets for the integrated resource plan, and energy efficiency (“DSM”) filings.

What’s next?

The results of the proceeding won’t be known for several weeks. We are hopeful that our work and that of our diverse allies will ensure that more clean energy and energy efficiency will be added to Georgia’s resource mix and change Georgia’s energy landscape for the better. Stay tuned for as we continue to track this process!

Kate Tracy
This blog was written by a former staff member of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
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