FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer Rennicks, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, 865-235-1448, [email protected]
SACE Statement on Start of Hearings for Georgia Power’s Integrated Resource Plan
The Company’s Proposed IRP misses the mark on renewables
Atlanta, Ga. – Today, the first hearings on Georgia Power Company’s (GPC) 2016 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) before the Georgia Public Service Commission begin. Every three years, Georgia’s regulated monopoly utility, Georgia Power, is required to update its long-term plan for how it will meet the state’s future electricity needs. To develop the IRP, the Company uses models to forecast energy demand over the next two decades and then determines the resources it will either build or purchase, along with programs that reduce energy demand. The Public Service Commission (PSC), PSC staff, and interested parties have the opportunity through these public hearings to review the Company’s data and methodology, question or challenge the information and provide additional data and expert opinion.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) has intervened in this IRP and will participate in hearings questioning Georgia Power’s expert witnesses on their assumptions, modeling and methodology included in their plans. SACE will focus on key issues in the 2016 plan, specifically gaps in renewable energy and energy efficiency plans.
Federal tax credits, plummeting solar energy and wind power costs, and coal and gas price volatility make it an ideal time for Georgia Power to be investing in reliable and low-risk renewable energy resources. The Company’s own experience with solar energy is that it is cheaper than anticipated in the past. And, the Commission’s own request for information on wind power found significant benefits for ratepayers from wind proposals. The U.S. Department of Energy’s recent approval of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line project will also open the door to high quality and low-cost wind power in the Southeast. Southern Alliance for Clean Energy will urge the PSC to require that Georgia Power significantly expand its proposed renewable energy program.
Figure 1: Comparison of clean energy growth and Georgia Power’s proposed renewable energy program. For 2017-2019 the REDI virtually suspends investments for 2017, then returns to 2015 investment levels of roughly 1.5% per year. At this level, Georgia’s prospects of lower energy costs and new jobs will dim.
Energy efficiency is the cheapest and fastest way to cut energy bills and reduce carbon pollution. But Georgia Power has not modeled energy efficiency as a resource in this IRP, unlike other utilities, and its proposed plan provides for only modest growth in energy savings. Regulators in nearby states are now requiring utilities to meet an energy savings target.
Reconsidering how the Company values energy efficiency can help avoid spending more money on aging coal plants and making costly electric grid upgrades. Last year, advocates, including SACE, recommended Georgia Power study new efficiency programs to increase its annual energy savings and catch up with regional leaders, but the Company rejected those requests.
Lastly, nuclear generation beyond the under-construction reactors at Plant Vogtle is included as an option in this IRP. Small modular reactors (SMRs) were listed as one type of nuclear power technology that Georgia Power retained for further screening. In the IRP, the Company also discussed actions they may take over the next five years in order to preserve the option of adding new reactors in the future, including evaluation and licensing activities for a proposed site in Stewart County along the Chattahoochee River, which is part of the ACF Basin that was just designated as the most endangered river basin in the country by American Rivers. With the current challenges and continual cost overruns at Plant Vogtle, SACE is concerned with the potential costs and water impacts and will be asking Georgia Power for justification for these projects.
Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy promotes responsible energy choices that work to address the impacts of global climate change and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org.