Georgia Power recently filed its 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with the Georgia Public Service Commission, proposing new renewable energy programs as well as energy efficiency targets.
If the renewable energy programs are approved, the company added, its total renewable energy capacity would increase to 18% of Georgia Power’s portfolio by 2024. Of its new energy saving programs for residential and commercial customers, the company said that by 2022, those programs are designed to help reduce peak demand about 1,600 MW, which is 10% of the company’s current peak demand.
As noted in the filing submitted to the commission, the IRP reflects the ongoing evolution of Georgia Power’s planning strategy through the procurement of energy from an additional 1,000 MW of renewable resources, continued implementation of demand-side programs, retirement of aging and economically challenged plants, compliance with environmental requirements, and deployment of battery energy storage technologies.
The IRP noted that to maximize benefits for customers, the 1,000 MW of renewable resources will be procured through a competitive bidding process and evaluated utilizing the Renewable Cost Benefit Framework (RCB Framework) approved by the commission following the 2016 IRP. Those procurement programs maintain the customer-focused strategy of growing renewables to deliver the most benefits for all customers at the lowest cost, the IRP said.
The new Customer Renewable Supply Procurement (CRSP) program, modeled after the commercial and industrial (C&I) Renewable Energy Development Initiative (REDI) program, will procure 950 MW of utility scale renewable resources available for subscription to new and existing customers. The IRP added that the company plans to procure up to 50 MW of renewable distributed generation (DG) resources to continue to support the development of that market segment. For the utility scale and DG procurements, the company proposes to continue sharing the projected long-term benefits realized from the power purchase agreements (PPAs), the IRP said.
The IRP also noted that the company performed an in-depth economic analysis of certain fossil fuel-fired generating units to determine which units will continue to provide economic benefits to customers. The results of that analysis show that sustained low gas prices combined with reduced energy demand growth continue to place economic pressure on the company’s remaining coal-fired generating units, the IRP said, adding that the company recommends retirement of Plant McIntosh Unit 1 and Plant Hammond Units 1-4.
The IRP said that Georgia Power plans to continue operation of the remaining coal fleet based on the benefits those units provide to customers. For Plant Bowen Units 1-2, Georgia Power acknowledges the economic challenges associated with continued operation of those units in certain scenarios but recognizes that immediate retirement of those units would be premature and expose customers to significant reliability risks associated with generation capacity shortfall, the IRP said.
Furthermore, the absence of those units requires construction of significant transmission system upgrades to support reliable operations, the IRP said, adding that the company plans to defer major resource decisions for those units to avoid any irreversible decisions that may be contrary to the long-term interests of customers.
To provide decision making flexibility, Georgia Power plans to take the appropriate steps to ensure future reliability, including making the appropriate transmission upgrades and issuing two capacity based requests for proposals (RFPs), the IRP said. The first RFP will seek resources that can provide capacity beginning in 2022-2023 due to the economic challenges associated with Plant Bowen Units 1-2, while the second RFP will seek resources that can provide capacity beginning in 2026-2028 ahead of the company’s currently forecast capacity need, the IRP noted.
Georgia Power also intends to retire three small hydro plants – Plant Estatoah Unit 1, Plant Langdale Units 5-6, and Plant Riverview Units 1-2. The IRP added that those plants went into service in 1929, 1908, and 1918, respectively, and represent a total 0.4 MW of retail capacity.
Among other things, the IRP discussed wholesale generation, noting that about 25 MW of Plant Scherer Unit 3 capacity will be available to serve retail customers after Dec. 31, following the expiration of an existing wholesale PPA. Georgia Power proposes to offer those 25 MW of capacity to retail jurisdiction beginning Jan. 1, 2020, consistent with a commission order from July 2008.