GEORGIA - Late last week, Georgia Power filed a request with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) for permission to build 30% more methane gas and oil beyond what the utility originally projected in last year’s integrated resource plan (IRP). Those plans usually project a utility's plans for energy generation for years to come, therefore a drastic update just a year later raises flags.
Georgia Power states that its current projection “is approximately 17 times greater than that previously forecasted.” The utility explains that the drastic increase is due to new energy demand from the growth in the industrial and commercial sectors over the past year. In their 2022 approved plan, Georgia Power included a planned request for proposals for future energy generation capacity that would identify the least cost options to customers for new generation options. In this filing, Georgia Power says that they cannot wait for that process to be completed before committing customers to investments increasing their methane gas and oil generation capacity by 30%.
Customers have been facing significantly increased costs from Georgia Power’s previous decisions. From the long-delayed and over-budgeted Vogtle nuclear plant, to a bill increase to the average customer by about $200 a year this year due to Georgia Power's inability to accurately estimate future costs. Despite the demonstrated volatility in gas prices, Georgia Power is doubling down and seeking to add more gas-powered electricity to its portfolio. The Public Service Commission will hold public hearings where customers can pose questions and state concerns about this shocking plan request.
In response, Sierra Club Senior Field Organizer Charline Whyte issued the following statement:
“The shock of receiving this news just before Halloween would spook anyone who has experienced the decisions Georgia Power has made in recent memory. As we head into the holiday season, we all naturally start thinking about our budget and what is affordable. Georgia Power has seen what its energy generation investments have done to our pocketbooks over the past few years, so you would hope it would choose the cleanest and best long-term financial options for our future. After the fuel cost case earlier this year, we saw that bills will only rise if Georgia Power continues to rely on fossil fuels like coal and gas.
“Georgia prides itself on its strong business development atmosphere. Companies are demanding more renewable energy generation, and the federal government is providing huge incentives to utilities to move to renewables and battery storage. We are at a critical moment in our fight against climate change: We cannot go backward and we cannot waste time and money. Georgia Power should, like other utilities in the region, invest in as much clean energy as possible instead of investing in expensive electricity generation from methane gas and oil.”
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.