Washington County Coal Plant (GA)
An Unwise Investment For Georgians
Updated Rules for Coal Air Pollution Underscore High Risk of Proposed Washington County Power Plant
New federal safeguards for coal pollution cast further doubt on the fate of the proposed Plant Washington coal-fired power plant in Sandersville, GA. The new standards come as the nation shifts toward cleaner sources of energy, with 149 existing coal-fired plants scheduled for retirement, 179 proposed new plants canceled since 2001, and recent high-profile bankruptcies have highlighted coal’s inability to compete in the marketplace. Read more in the press release.
SELC is working with a coalition of conservation, clean energy and faith organizations to fight a proposed 850-megawatt conventional coal-fired power plant in Washington County, Georgia. The plant is proposed by Power4Georgians, LLC, a joint venture of non-profit electric membership corporations (EMCs), and would cost at least $2 billion.
The proposed plant would emit thousands of tons of soot- and smog-forming pollutants every year in a county already experiencing high levels of air pollution. Mercury from the plant would contaminate the Ogeechee River, which is already so polluted with mercury that the state health department limits the amount of fish that should be eaten from the river. The plant would consume about 13.5 million gallons of water a day from the Oconee River, at a time when the entire state of Georgia is struggling to make do with limited water resources.
The Wrong Solution
The EMCs assert that the new plant is necessary to meet their projected growth in electricity demand. Although energy efficiency is the cheapest, fastest, cleanest and safest way to reduce that demand, the EMCs have barely scratched the surface of their energy efficiency potential. To the extent that the EMCs cannot address their future needs through efficiency alone, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are the best long-term solutions. Renewables have the additional benefit of producing more local jobs than a highly automated plant burning dirty imported fuel.
The EMCs are non-profit entities charged with acting in the best interest of their members. Making an enormous investment in a new coal plant is not in the best of interest of the EMC members ― economically or in terms of public health and the environment. Recognizing this problem, four of the ten EMCs that formed Power4Georgians have withdrawn from the project.