In this plan, the company said it wants to add more than 2,300 megawatts of new capacity from renewables and that it plans to double its renewable generation by 2035. It also plans to invest in 1,000 megawatts of energy storage systems — such as massive batteries — a move Georgia Power says is necessary to allow solar to reliably power homes when the sun isn’t shining.
According to the plan, Georgia Power also proposes adding more than 2,300 megawatts of natural gas generating capacity.
While environmental groups lauded the shift away from coal, some said the new investment in natural gas made little sense to them. While burning natural gas generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions per megawatt of energy produced than coal, gas-fired plants still send huge amounts of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. To keep the global warming temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the World Meteorological Organization has warned that immediate and large-scale emissions reductions are necessary.
“We welcome Georgia Power’s plans for additional coal retirements, but its proposal to add over 2,300 megawatts of new gas capacity through power purchase agreements is deeply concerning ...,” said Jill Kysor, a senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Hearings will be held to discuss Georgia Power’s plan in the coming months, and the PSC is expected to vote on it over the summer.
Staff writer Matt Kempner contributed to this story.