Georgia Power Plant Is Top US Greenhouse Gas Polluter

The Associated Press reports that a power plant in Georgia emits more greenhouse gases than any other source in the United States. From the WMAZ-TV website:

The most detailed data yet on emissions of heat-trapping gases show that U.S. power plants are responsible for the bulk of

Aerial view of the Robert Sherer power plant n...
Aerial view of Plant Scherer - Image via Wikipedia

the emissions blamed for global warming.

And the power plant that emits the most greenhouse gases in the U.S. is Plant Scherer in Juliette. The plant is operated by Southern Company .

The coal-fired plant reported releasing nearly 23 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, in 2010.

This should not be a surprise. Plant Scherer is the largest coal-fired power plant in the Western Hemisphere, the fifth largest power plant in the US of all types, and produces 3,500 megawatts of power. It takes three train-loads of coal per day to fuel the the coal-fired power plant which has a turbine room approximately a mile long.

Southern Company operates the plant through its subsidiary Georgia Power. Georgia Power employess about 9,000 people throughout Georgia, servicing 2.25 million customers with electricity.

Almost exactly two-thirds of Georgia’s electricity is generated by coal-fired power plants and the attention brought to Plant Scherer cannot be considered good for the state. The reconstituted idiocy of carbon tax credits may yet raise its insider-enriching head again. If so, Georgia is in deep trouble. Removing the energy tax from manufacturing is great, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the state’s potential damages if carbon-tax credits, by any name, become federal law.

Remember that Georgia sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) back in October over the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule which is the Return of the Son of Carbon Tax Credits done on a state scale. Under the EPA plan, Georgia would be forced to buy “emission allowances” from other states.

It’s past time for some additional nuclear-powered energy plants, don’t you think?

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  1. benevolus says:

    If we do more nuke we should add a “don’t know how to dispose of the waste” fee too.
    We charge a fee for disposing of tires, many countries do it for batteries, but nukes? Let our children figure how to pay for disposal.

  2. Call me cynical. But do we really believe that with China and India building coal fired plants on a monthly basis with no EPA, an American coal fired plant is the greatest threat to Global Warming? Not believable. If that is the case, then the EPA does nothing to help with pollution. Oh, wait, the EPA does do nothing to help with pollution. They just get in the way of innovation.

    This is an agency trying to find a purpose.

  3. sunkawakan says:

    How do you connect China and India building coal-fired plants with your “not believable” statemet about global warming? One could also say “do we really believe that some eating civet cats in China had anything to do with spreading the SARS virus?” Yet, they have proven that there was a link. Your logic is faulty, and you dismiss the mounting evidence.

  4. It’s not about Global Warming. It’s the EPA saying the US coal plants emit the most pollution that contributes to Global Warming in the world. China and India build and use many more coal plants than the US does and have no guidelines on emissions. Did you see the Olympics in Beijing? It’s about making the numbers fit your agenda and not the real picture. The EPA releasing this report with it’s conclusions are suspect.

    • Calypso says:

      martha, I understand your concern regarding the EPA, but I’m seeing, “And the power plant that emits the most greenhouse gases in the U.S. is Plant Scherer in Juliette. ”

      U.S. =/= world

  5. Point well taken, but if you read the story, they say that US coal plants are the biggest contributors to Global Warming…that’s not believable.

    “The most detailed data yet on emissions of heat-trapping gases show that U.S. power plants are responsible for the bulk of the emissions blamed for global warming.”

  6. sunkawakan says:

    So, you’re saying that you’re not doubting that emissions have impact on climate/warming, just that coal plants in the United States shouldn’t be singled out as “the biggest contributors to Global Warming?”

    I’m all for shared responsibility on this one. The BRIC countries need to be held accountable as well.

  7. benevolus says:

    For the (alleged) $14B we are paying for that new nuke plant, we could offer $5000 to almost 3 million people to build some solar and some wind capability at their own homes. And if my math is right, each of those people would only have to generate about 800 watts to equal the output.

    • Charlie says:

      OK, say it with me, “Wind and solar do not provide baseline power”.

      Wind and solar can supplement baseline power. But there is a base minimum that is required at all times, even when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. This requires either nuclear or fossil fuels (hydro is about maxed out in GA and contributes minimally, plus those damn droughts…).

      Coal pollutes, natural gas and diesel are subject to huge price swings, and nuclear is very expensive on the front end. Each has positives and downsides. But among this group, you must pick your poision.

      Or, each of those three million people can be prepared to sit in the dark a good bit while they enjoy their $5,000 each.

      • benevolus says:

        I am not suggesting completely replacing their electric with solar and wind. I don’t know what the real numbers are, but let’s say the new nuke plants are going to provide 5% of the electricity for the state. We only need to generate 5% via solar and wind to make the plant not necessary.

  8. sunkawakan says:

    None of these technologies are the whole answer. We should see fusion (or more exotic technologies) in the next half-century (a century tops), and perhaps paired with improved renewable sources like solar, wind, etc., as well as reliable energy storage devices, we’ll see an end to the inefficient, polluting fuel sources we have today.

    What we must do is continue to invest in emerging technologies that show real promise. Get away from short-sighted, foolish “drill, baby, drill” platitudes and stay focused on the future. I’m looking for leaders who can see a future where energy can be provided at ridiculously low cost to everyone on the face of the earth.

    • Doug Deal says:

      Hoping for fusion is not going to bring it into being. There are what major roadblocks to fusion power that I can see never being solved.

      Fusion occurs at ridiculously high pressures and temperatures. No structural material can contain it, so it is contained by electro-magnetic force (lasers, magnetic fields, etc). The problem is that the production of energy is then decoupled from it’s inputs and outputs, meaning the contained material is consumed in isolation and no further material to sustain the production of energy can be added to it and there is no mechanism to pass the heat onto another component to turn it into useful work.

      For this reason, fusion power has always been 50 years away and in 50 years will likely still be 50 years away.

  9. sunkawakan says:

    I choose the “sun in a box” poison, then. It’s sustainable for millions of years. The results of drilling or digging are not.

    All we need is a really good box, now. Plenty of research on tokamak (ITER).

    • Charlie says:

      Then feel free to sit in the dark a lot. The rest of us who prefer lights at night will continue to make the decisions about which poison you get.

        • Doug Deal says:

          My majors in college (drum roll please)

          Chemical Engineering and Physics.

          Fusion is a technological dead end until they fix problems that look unsolvable. When you completely understand the problem but draw blanks on a solution it means the solution is likely out of reach, perhaps forever.

          It is hard to imagine a time when we can imagine an answer to the problems with fusion as a power source. Luckily, there is completely workable fission.

          • sunkawakan says:

            Doug, you’re probably now a RINO, since you’re a physics major.

            I agree with you that fission is “here today,” and we should invest. However, there is continued movement in fusion technology. The ITER project is the most notable example. And whether it’s tokamak, inertial or other technology that is eventually able to contain the plasma, I believe it’s an inevitability within the next century. Unless, of course, even more exotic solutions become available.

  10. sunkawakan says:

    Charlie, I’m actually in agreement with you that solar is a complementary technology, that will act as an adjunct power source. The phrase “sun in a box” is referring to fusion-based nuclear technologies.

    I’m one a very small number of those “on the left” who see a great deal of merit in energy from nuclear technologies, both current fission technology and potential for future fusion energy sources. Yes, there are problems, but newer plants have solved many of the challenges, and there is much to be said about “location, location, location.”

    Many on the right are short-sighted when it comes to technology that doesn’t fit in their nice, simple framework of visceral stimuli. For myself, I’d much rather we had leaders who recognized the potential of fusion or the importance of finding the Higgs boson than “drill, baby, drill.”

    • Charlie says:

      I’ve been writing here for the last four years that we have to make energy independence a goal, and that alternative energy has to be part of that solution. But we can’t replace today’s coal plants with tomorrow’s technology until it actually exists. We’re building the first two nuclear reactors since the 70’s here in Georgia, and frankly, we still don’t know what it’s going to cost nor if they’re going to work as advertised.

      On the upside, we have MAGE solar from Germany building next generation solar panels in Dublin, using different (better) technolgy than those that Solyndra squandered our tax dollars on. The GA PSC is considering mandating solar as part of the solution.

      They are also tasked with making sure we have power next week and next year. With GA Power being forced to retire 3 coal burning plants, we run the real risk of not having enough power produced in Georgia to power Georgia. That is why I emphasize we have to pick a poison that is available today. That’s only a few days ahead of when we’ll actually require it.

      • sunkawakan says:

        It is sad that nobody can accurately estimate the cost of a new nuclear plant. It’s not just “big gub’mint” that has caused that problem, however. The industry reliance on hydrocarbons for most of our energy has led us to develop a grid that favors that technology. It’ll take a lot of money to bring our grid up to snuff if we were, for instance, to replace it with nuclear and alternative energy sources.

        With more exotic stuff just a century away (not really very far off), we’d better develop some real fortitude, and soon.

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