Georgia regulators ditch plan to burn tires for energy
The Georgia Public Service Commission has unanimously agreed to reverse a plan to allow biomass plants to burn tires for electricity after SELC urged the state utility regulators to reconsider the decision.
The biomass industry asked the PSC to add shredded tires to its fuel mix when it bids for energy contracts with Georgia Power, which the commission approved in April. It then rolled back that decision after SELC, on behalf of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light and Partnership for Southern Equity, told commissioners that Georgia law requires the opportunity for public comment before making this type of change.
“We appreciate the commission’s open mindedness and willingness to give this issue the additional consideration that it warrants,” said SELC Senior Attorney Jennifer Whitfield. “This decision gives Georgians a chance to share their positions and learn more about why utilities burning tires for energy would be a move backward — not forward.”
Biomass plants primarily burn wood pellets to create energy. This practice is incredibly inefficient, heavily relies on taxpayer funding, and emits more dangerous carbon pollution than burning fossil fuels, including coal.
The commission’s vote to reverse this decision is a big win for low-wealth communities and communities of color in Georgia who are already disproportionately burdened by dirty and expensive energy.Nathaniel Smith, Partnership for Southern Equity
Burning tires at these facilities would pose an even greater threat to surrounding communities because they release more carbon-dioxide than burning jet fuel, kerosene, or methane gas. Tires can be made of more than 200 raw materials including some that emit pollutants known to cause cancer.
“The commission’s vote to reverse this decision is a big win for low-wealth communities and communities of color in Georgia who are already disproportionately burdened by dirty and expensive energy,” said Nathaniel Smith, Founder and Chief Equity Officer of the Partnership for Southern Equity. “Communities, especially those who would be most impacted, deserve a seat at the table and to be part of the conversation before decisions like this are made.”
For years, the commission has tried to expand Georgia Power’s biomass portfolio. Due to the decision, the biomass industry must now petition for a formal public hearing at the PSC for any future efforts to add burning tires to Georgia’s fuel mix in the future.
“We already have clean, affordable, and reliable energy options here in Georgia — burning tires is not one of them,” said Codi Norred, Executive Director of Georgia Interfaith Power and Light. “As an emerging national clean energy leader, Georgia should be creating better access to rooftop solar and energy efficiency programs that would give customers more control over their energy usage and help to lower monthly bills, not expanding the dirty biomass industry.”