Georgia Renewable Power combining four biomass projects into two

Georgia Renewable Power LLC applied March 19 at the Georgia Public Service Commission for permission to combine together two individual power power purchase agreements (PPA) with electric utility Georgia Power so it can build one larger biomass-fired project, instead of two smaller ones.

To accomplish its objectives, Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) requested waivers of the requirements of a commission rule that limits Qualifying Facilities (QFs) utilizing the Proxy Price Methodology to 30 MW. 

GRP is currently developing two renewable energy biomass projects in Georgia: one in Franklin County (called the Franklin County facility) and one in Madison County (called Madison County). Both projects will advance the Georgia PSC’s goal of encouraging the development of renewable resources on the Georgia Power system.

To develop its biomass facility in Franklin County, GRP acquired two QFs with existing PPAs with Georgia Power: Fort Gaines Energy LLC and Green Energy Partners LLC (GEP). Ft. Gaines proposed to develop a biomass facility in Clay County, Georgia. Ft. Gaines entered into a certain “Contract for the Purchase of Firm Capacity and Energy from a Renewable Qualifying Facility Utilizing the Proxy Unit Methodology” for a 50-MW biomass plant in April 2013.  The Ft. Gaines PPA was approved by the commission in May 2013.  

GEP proposed to develop a biomass facility in Franklin County, and it entered into a similar contract for a 28-MW biomass plant in September 2013 (approved by the commission in December 2013). The commission approved the addition of 2 MW to the GEP PPA on Feb. 9 of this year.

GRP’s purchase of both Ft. Gaines and GEP constituted Change of Control Transactions under both PPAs. Georgia Power requested commission approval of the change of control in August 2014, which was approved in September 2014.

GRP now wants to build one plant at the Franklin County site

GRP now wants to consolidate the Ft. Gaines and GEP PPAs in order to develop and construct one biomass facility with generation capacity of 79 MW at the original site of the GEP facility in Franklin County and to modify limited provisions of the consolidated PPA. To consolidate the Ft. Gaines and GEP PPAs, GRP requests that the commission take actions that include:

  • Authorize GRP to re-locate the 50 MW currently authorized in the Ft. Gaines PPA to GRP’s proposed Franklin County biomass facility;
  • Amend the GEP PPA (originally at 28 MW) to include the 50 MW consolidated from the Ft. Gaines PPA and adding 1 MW (as opposed to 2 MWs) from the recently approved PPA amendment, resulting in a 79-MW PPA for GRP’s Franklin County biomass facility;
  • Amend the GEP PPA to provide for a 30-year term, changing the ending date to Nov. 30, 2045; and
  • Assign the consolidated GEP PPA to GRP Franklin LLC, which will be GRP’s operating company for the facility. 

In the past year, this commission has permitted the transfer of PPAs in order to facilitate the development and completion of biomass projects, and fundamentally, this petition seeks nothing new, GRP argued. GRP noted that it is already a party to both PPAs, and it posted all the required collateral for both. GRP’s assumption of both PPAs will greatly facilitate the economic viability of the projects.

GRP added: “The facts underlying and supporting this Petition are consistent with the policies supporting previous waivers of the Rule granted by this Commission. As cited in other waiver requests, Georgia Forestry Commission studies indicate that Georgia has substantial biomass resources, which may be applicable to and available for electricity generation. Such renewable generation can be expected to comply with the qualification requirements of a QF. To date, biomass QFs do not provide a significant amount of electric generation in Georgia. A 79 MW QF can reasonably be expected to have better economies of scale than a QF facility with lower megawatt production.”

Madison County project also needs combined PPAs

To develop its biomass facility in Madison County, GRP acquired 100% of the equity interests in North Star Jefferson LLC (NSJ). NSJ proposed to develop a biomass facility in Wadley, Jefferson  County. NSJ entered into a contract for a 21-MW biomass plant in July 2011 (approved by the commission in September 2011). The NSJ PPA was amended to provide for a 30-year term. It was increased to 25 MW by commission order on Feb. 9, 2015. GRP’s purchase of NSJ constituted a Change of Control Transaction. Georgia Power requested commission approval of the change of control in August 2014, with the commission approving it in September 2014. 

GRP also became the assignee of a PPA between Green Energy Partners–DeKalb LLC (GEP-DeKalb) and Georgia Power. GEP-DeKalb proposed to develop a biomass facility in Lithonia, DeKalb County. GEP-DeKalb entered into a contract for an 11.5-MW biomass plant in January 2012 (approved by the commission in August 2012). In December 2014, the commission approved the assignment of the GEP-DeKalb PPA to GRP.

Similarly to its Franklin County facility, GRP seeks to consolidate the GEP-DeKalb PPA into the NSJ PPA in order to develop and construct one biomass facility. GRP also seeks to assign the remaining 1 MW originally assigned to the Franklin County facility in the GEP PPA to its Madison County facility in the NSJ PPA. The capacity of GRP’s Madison County facility will be 37.5 MW. GRP seeks authority to re-locate both facilities to its proposed site in Madison County, subject to receipt of the requisite air permit and interconnection agreement. GRP also seeks to modify the Required Commercial Operation Date (RCOD) in the NSJ PPA to June 1, 2017.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.