Press Release | April 16, 2024

Georgia Public Service Commission approves burning more fossil fuels for energy

Commission greenlights plan with ineffective bill protections for residents and small businesses, removes critical consumer guardrails

ATLANTA– Today the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) approved Georgia Power’s off-cycle request to burn more fossil fuels for energy as they seek to attract more large-load customers, including data centers, potentially exposing residential and small business customers to greater air pollution and bill hikes.

The approved Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) authorizes Georgia Power to build three new methane gas and oil-burning units at Plant Yates. These units will have a 46-year life span, potentially locking in Georgia’s reliance on fossil fuels for decades. The agreement also includes buying energy from Georgia Power’s sister company Mississippi Power, a move that will delay the retirement of Plant Daniel, a coal-burning power plant.

It will cost Georgia Power’s customers approximately $3 billion to build and acquire these new energy sources. About half of that cost is for new gas units at Plant Yates. The plan approved by the PSC today does not identify how that cost will be split among Georgia Power’s customers and fails to provide meaningful protections for residential and small business billpayers. One provision does commit to $2.89 in monthly savings for some residential customers, but only for three years. Even before this proceeding, the average Georgia Power residential bill will jump a total of $44 a month over two years, including $16 to pay for spikes in methane gas and coal costs.

“Georgians pay some of the highest energy bills in the country, and they keep climbing. It is the PSC’s duty to meaningfully protect Georgians’ health and wallets, and they failed to do that today,” said Codi Norred, executive director of Georgia Interfaith Power and Light (GIPL). “Our most vulnerable neighbors, including older adults on fixed incomes, will face dangerous temperatures this summer because they can’t afford their energy bills. Georgians can’t afford this commission approving overpriced energy.”     

The PSC also OK’d Georgia Power bypassing the competitive bid process for acquiring new resources, an important consumer protection that guarantees new energy and capacity is both reliable and cost-effective. Georgia Power told commissioners it would not have time to follow this critical process if it wanted to woo new large-load customers from other energy providers in the state.

“Georgia Power is good at making promises to protect customers from bill hikes, but not good at committing to those promises on paper,” said Jennifer Whitfield, a senior attorney at SELC. “Georgia Power’s quest to attract big, energy-hungry customers cannot be on the backs of residential and small business customers. They can’t choose their energy provider. The big guys can.”

At every hearing during this IRP proceeding, members of the public spoke out against the commission expanding the use of fossil fuels. The sometimes emotional speakers included several healthcare professionals who said they were fearful of the very real and already visible health impacts of Georgia’s continuing reliance on fossil fuels. The Fifth National Climate Assessment, released late last year, highlights how climate change disproportionally impacts the South: extreme heatwaves, sea level rise, flooding, and increasingly volatile storms. Analysis by the Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, shows that the most likely energy demand can be met with renewable options, like solar and battery storage.

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Press Contacts

Terah Boyd

Communications Manager (AL/GA)

Phone: (404) 521-9900
Email: [email protected]

Partner Contacts

Jay Horton

Georgia Interfaith Power and Light

Phone: 404-377-5552
Email: [email protected]