Georgia Power on Sept. 28 announced that it is developing a closure timeline for all of its 29 coal ash dispoosal ponds and expects to finalize and release the schedule within the next six months.
The schedule will be developed in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “costly” Coal Combustion Residual (CCR) rule as well as the soon-to-be signed Steam Electric Effluent Limitation Guidelines, the utility said. The company added that it will consult with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to develop the plan.
“We are developing an ash pond closure timeline that will meet all federal regulations in the most economical way for our customers and our business,” said Paul Bowers, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. “Safety and compliance will continue to be our primary focus throughout the closure process, while fulfilling our longstanding commitment to protect the environment and the communities we serve.”
Georgia Power said it has a strong safety and compliance record with a comprehensive and rigorous inspection program to safely maintain its containment structures and facilitate long-term planning. The company is in the pre-closure process at several retired or converted coal-fired generation sites which includes some preliminary site work such as ash relocation and tree clearing, as well as considering vendors for potential closure activities.
The company’s 29 ash ponds are located around 11 coal plants across the state – Plant Bowen (Euharlee), Plant Branch (Eatonton), Plant Hammond (Coosa), Plant Kraft (Port Wentworth), Plant McDonough (Smyrna), Plant McIntosh (Rincon), Plant McManus (Brunswick), Plant Mitchell (Albany), Plant Scherer (Macon), Plant Wansley (Carrollton), and Plant Yates (Newnan).
As the company has increased its use of natural gas, renewable and other non-coal sources of generation over the past decade, its production of coal ash and other byproducts has significantly declined, and it now recycles more than 50% of its current production.
Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Co. (NYSE: SO), one of the nation’s largest generators of electricity. It has 2.4 million customers in all but four of Georgia’s 159 counties.