The project came with a proposed construction cost of $2.1 billion, and consumer groups argued that it could have dramatically increased local electric bills. The project almost immediately hit snags when Dwight Brown, organizer of Power4Georgians, was indicted and forced to retire as head of Cobb EMC based on a settlement agreement with co-op customers who sued the utility for spinning a nonprofit into a for-profit subsidiary. The charges against Brown were eventually dropped.
By 2013, most of the EMCs that had funneled millions into the project had dropped out of Power4Georgians, including Cobb EMC. Alford, who saw his own legal troubles growing in late 2019 when he was charged with racketeering and criminal attempt to commit theft by taking, stuck with the project, previously predicting that Plant Washington would move forward as planned and would be built by 2017.
Alford could not be reached by phone, and his attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A coalition of environmental groups stuck with the project as well, continuing opposition even as it seemed less and less likely that the plant would move forward.
At one point, Plant Washington was among a handful of potential coal plants that may have been far enough along in planning to be exempt from new federal environmental rules that capped the amount of carbon pollution emissions from power plants.
In addition to environmental concerns, the economics of building a coal plant became increasingly questionable as access to renewable energy grew, said Stephen Stetson, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.
“It has never made sense and it has made less and less sense every day as the price of renewables has consistently come down,” Stetson said. “The atmosphere in Georgia is ripe for renewables. You just have to look at dollars and cents.”