Ga. Utilities Pull Support for Coal Plant Proposal

Guest Blog | May 18, 2009 | Press Releases

Atlanta, Ga. (May 18) – In just the past week, two Georgia Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs), GreyStone Power Corporation and Excelsior EMC, have publicly called off their participation in Power4Georgians’ proposed Plant Washington, an 850MW coal-fired power plant planned for Washington County, Ga. Power4Georgians was originally a partnership of 10 EMCs, but as investors dwindle, so does the likelihood of construction for this ill-planned $2.2 billion dirty coal project. Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is calling on the 8 EMCs still partnered with Power4Georgians to follow lead and leave dirty coal behind.

“We applaud GreyStone Power and Excelsior EMC for making the common sense decision to steer away from investing in new coal-fired power plants, and we encourage the other EMCs of Power4Georgians to follow suit,” said Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “With pending federal climate legislation and the associated risks to utilities and their customers for emitting carbon dioxide, building new coal plants just doesn’t make sense.”

On Friday, May 15, Excelsior EMC announced at its annual meeting that it had ended its investment in Power4Georgians and Plant Washington. On Sunday, May 17, GreyStone Power followed suit, cited in an article in the Douglas County Sentinel. Both electricity cooperatives cited market uncertainty relating to federal climate legislation. Excelsior also noted the weakened demand due to economic slowdown and subsequent investment difficulties in the current economic climate.

“We are very pleased that our EMC will not spend our money on this dirty and risky coal plant,” said Ashley Simpson, a GreyStone Power member and member of West Georgians for Clean Energy. “We look forward to working with our EMC to invest in cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable alternatives now that they have said no to coal.”

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) has worked with local groups and Georgians for Smart Energy to oppose the plant since its inception. In December 2008, SACE released a report, The Risks of Building and Operating Plant Washington, detailing the considerable risks involved in Plant Washington and the financial benefits of embracing energy efficiency and clean energy alternatives. SACE recently detailed corruption allegations of the leading proponents of the plant in the Clean Energy Footprints Blog. CEO of Cobb EMC, Dwight Brown, the lead signatory to establish Power4Georgians, and other board members of Cobb EMC are currently under investigation for “theft by taking” along with other white collar crimes by the Cobb County District Attorney and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

“Given the corruption of Cobb EMC leadership, investment in a giant new coal plant ought to be suspect as a get-rich-quick scheme rather than a benefit to ratepayers. Meanwhile, Georgia’s significant renewable energy potential remains largely untapped,” said Smith. “Through a combination of energy efficiency initiatives and renewable energy sources Georgia can meet future energy demands without relying upon polluting, outdated technologies such as coal.” # # #