Washington County Coal Plant (GA)

In 2012, Power4Georgians agreed to shelve plans for a new coal plant in Ben Hill; strengthen limits on pollution from Plant Washington; and invest millions in energy efficiency.


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A Bad Idea For Georgians

Since 2010, SELC has been working with a coalition of organizations to prevent a proposed 850-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Washington County, Georgia from becoming a reality. The plant is proposed by Power4Georgians, LLC, which was originally a consortium of non-profit electric membership corporations (EMCs) interested in developing the project.  However, all of the EMCs have ceased funding the project, and with construction costs projected to exceed $2 billion, there is no indication that the facility has the necessary financing to proceed.

Despite having authorization to proceed for nearly three years, the facility has not laid the first brick, forcing Power4Georgians to seek an eighteen month extension of its state-issued construction permit through April 2016.  Even though Plant Washington is not remotely close to commencing construction, Power4Georgians argues the facility should be exempt from EPA’s proposed limits on carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants.  SELC submitted comments to EPA stating that given the lack of construction activity, it would be improper to consider Plant Washington anything other than a new source of carbon pollution.

A Significant Source of Pollution

If built, Plant Washington would produce the carbon pollution equivalent of about one million cars annually, along with many other pollutants of concern to human health. The plant would further 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 it. And it would stress Georgia’s limited water resources by consuming millions of gallons per day from the Oconee River.

Dead Plant Walking

Over 170 proposed U.S. coal-fired power plants have been canceled since 2010.  Plant Washington is one of just two plants still purportedly under development without plans to control carbon emissions.

The EMCs once asserted that Plant Washington would be necessary to meet their projected growth in electricity demand, but load growth projections for Georgia are flat or declining. The state’s largest utility, Georgia Power Company, has large excess capacity even after a wave of planned coal plant retirements, with no plans to build new coal plants.  Georgia does not need Plant Washington, a bad idea whose time has come.  

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