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Georgia Power Unhappy With EPA Carbon Plan

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June 03 -- ATLANTA -- The Environmental Protection Agency's plan calls for Georgia to cut its carbon pollution to 834 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity production by 2030. According to the EPA , Georgia's emission rate was 1,500 pounds per megawatt-hour in 2012.

If approved, the EPA plan eventually could lead to less demand, and hence lower emissions from Plant Scherer in Juliette , said Kurt Ebersbach , senior attorney at the nonprofit Southern Environmental Law Center . Plant Scherer, co-owned by Georgia Power , has up-to-date carbon controls. But as one of the biggest coal plants in the country, environmentalists regularly name it as one of the dirtiest.

"The cheapest way to get these reductions would be energy efficiency," Ebersbach said. Mix that with more renewable energy, an enlarged Plant Vogtle and more natural gas, and Georgia "would maybe use Scherer less," he said.

Georgia Power , the state's biggest utility, indicated it detects federal overreach.

The proposals "appear to be based on reduction measures that extend well beyond (federal) Clean Air Act requirements and infringe on states' authority to determine the best approach for their own generating sources," said company spokeswoman Amy Fink . Georgia Power plans to review the full draft before submitting comments to the federal government.

But the industry has long anticipated some kind of carbon rule for existing power plants, and Georgia Power has already made some shifts. In 2009, the company won key legislative backing for the doubling in capacity now underway at Plant Vogtle, a nuclear plant below Augusta. In 2013, Georgia Power announced plans to retire 2,000 megawatts of coal and oil capacity, which includes the shutdown of Plant Branch in Milledgeville .

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Stan Wise , whose district includes Jones County , blasted the plan and called it part of a federal war on coal.

The proposal, if implemented, places "all of the state's energy consumers at the risk of escalating prices and energy interruptions with only slight reductions in carbon emissions to show for it," he said.

The PSC regulates Georgia Power . The state's electric membership corporations source most of their electricity from that company.

A public hearing on the proposed rule is scheduled in Atlanta on July 29 .

To contact writer Maggie Lee , email her at mlee@macon.com .


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