Georgia PSC and Utilities Comment on EPA Clean Power Plan

On Tuesday, we told you about how the Environmental Protection Agency was proposing changes in the amount of ozone allowed in the air, and how that might affect Georgia. That’s not the only EPA action under consideration, though. Back in June, the EPA proposed a rule known as the Clean Power Plan that has as its goal reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by power plants by 30%, compared to 2005 levels.

The deadline for comments on the proposal was December 1st, and on Tuesday, the Georgia Public Service Commission released 15 pages of comments it sent to the EPA that documented its concerns and asked for changes in the way the emissions goals for Georgia were calculated. In an accompanying press release, the Commission said,

[T]he proposed rule is unclear and will create difficulties for regulators and ratepayers in Georgia. We request an adjustment to Georgia’s final goal to relieve the hardship we believe the rules, as written, will impose.

[W]ithout revisions and clarifications, this rule will be unduly burdensome on Georgians placing upward pressure on electricity rates, an outcome that is not acceptable to our organization or the citizens we serve.

Concerns expressed by the commission include the fact that while the national goal for reduction in carbon emissions is 30%, Georgia is being asked to reduce its emissions by 45%. In addition, no credit is given the state for two nuclear power plants currently under construction at Plant Vogtle.

Georgia’s PSC isn’t the only one concerned about the effects of the Clean Power Plan on Georgians. As reported by Fierce Energy, Oglethorpe Power, which supplies energy to Georgia’s 38 Electric Membership Corporations, says that the rule could greatly increase the cost of electricity Georgians would have to pay.

According to Oglethorpe Power President and CEO Michael L. Smith, the EPA’s plan unfairly targets Georgia, where the state’s utilities already reduced carbon emissions 30 percent between 2005 and 2012, and would require reductions of an additional 44 percent, making Georgia the sixth most impacted state in the country. He said many states that have not been as proactive as Georgia are required to do far less under the EPA proposal.

“Georgia utilities have invested billions of dollars in coal-powered facilities that, under this plan, would have to be used less or, in some cases, possibly shut down before the end of their useful life” Smith said. “This would force us to replace coal-generated electricity with price volatile natural gas, reducing our ability to operate our plants in the most economical fashion…”

The EPA will continue to review the comments received about the proposed plan. No date has yet been set for when the final rule would be approved.