Georgia Power's Plant Mitchell opts out of biomass

By Anna Simet | January 14, 2014

Georgia Power has announced that it will not convert Unit 3 at its 155-megawatt (MW) coal-fired Plant Mitchell near Albana, Ga., to biomass, contrary to plans approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission in 2009.

The utility released statements indicating that it plans to file a request this year with the GPSC to decertify the unit instead. The company said it is cancelling its biomass conversion plans because an extensive review and analysis deemed the conversion as not cost effective for its customers.

Georgia Power said that since proposing the biomass conversion in 2008, it has worked to assess the project in light of new EPA regulations—particularly Boiler MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) rules, uncertainty of which stalled the project—as well as changing market and economic conditions. “In addition to increased capital costs and costs related to environmental compliance, multiple other factors, such as the recent economic downturn and lower natural gas prices, have significantly reduced the project's value and benefits for customers,” stated the company.

Georgia Power also reported that it considered switching the unit to Powder River Basin coal or natural gas, neither of which proved viable.

If the request to decertify the unit is approved, it will be retired by April 16, 2015, the compliance date of the U.S. EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule.

The company added that as part of its 2013 Integrated Resource Plan, the company received approval from the GPSC to decertify and retire more than 2,000 MW of coal- and oil-fired generation at facilities across the state. It expects to have under contract more than 2,300 MW of renewable energy by 2017, including biomass, landfill gas, hydro, solar and wind generation.