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Industry News

Georgia Power Plans Reduced Coal Usage Through Unit Retirements and Fuel Switching

LCG, January 8, 2013--Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, announced yesterday plans to request approval from the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to decertify and retire 15 coal- and oil-fired electric generating units with a combined capacity of 2,061 MW.

Georgia Power currently operates 11,387 MW of coal-fired generating capacity at ten facilities in Georgia. Previously in 2012, Georgia Power received approval to decertify over 600 MW of coal-fired generation.

The new request to decertify and retire will be included in Georgia Power's updated Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that is scheduled to be filed with the PSC on January 31.

The basic factors driving the retirements are: additional environmental compliance costs associated with existing and future regulations; recent and forecasted economic conditions; and low natural gas prices that weaken the cost-competitiveness of the older coal-fired units.

Georgia Power plans to request to decertify units 3 and 4 at Plant Branch, units 1-5 at Plant Yates, units 1 and 2 at Plant McManus, and units 1-4 at Plant Kraft. Kraft Unit 4 is oil- or natural gas-fired, and the two McManus units are oil-fired; the other units are all coal-fired.

Other than Kraft units 1-4, Georgia Power plans to request decertification of the units by the April 16, 2015, which is the effective date of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) rule. For Plant Kraft, Georgia power plans to pursue a one-year extension of the MATS compliance date prior to retiring the units. Georgia Power anticipates that the PSC would vote on the decertification request this summer.

Georgia Power plans additional requests of the PSC that will reduce coal consumption and related emissions. First, the company plans to request that units 6 and 7 at Plant Yates are converted from coal to natural gas. Second, the company plans for Unit 1 at Plant McIntosh switch from Central Appalachian coal to Powder River Basin (PRB) coal. The fuel switches are driven by the MATS rule, other existing and expected environmental regulations, and the company's economic analyses.

Lastly, Georgia Power announced that the conversion at Plant Mitchell Unit 3 from coal to biomass will not be completed before 2017, should it move forward, due to continued regulatory uncertainty related to the Industrial Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (IB MACT) rule and other EPA rules.

For the rest of its coal fleet, including the units at plants Bowen, Hammond, Scherer and Wansley, Georgia Power stated that it is already installing additional environmental controls to comply with the environmental rules.

Georgia Power also plans to request the decertification of Boulevard 2 and Boulevard 3 combustion turbine generating units in Savannah upon approval of the IRP, due to the costs to repair and operate the units.

Georgia Power's President and CEO stated, "We recognize the significant impact that these retirements will have on the local communities and we took that into account when making these decisions. These decisions were made after extensive analysis and are necessary in order for us to maintain our commitment to provide the most reliable and affordable electricity to our customers. We are in the midst of a significant transition in our fleet that will result in a more diverse fuel portfolio "including nuclear, 21st century coal, natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency" to ensure we maintain our commitment for generations to come."
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