Georgia Power said Monday that it will ask state regulators for approval to shut down three coal- or oil-fired power plants and sharply reduce operations at a fourth, a move that would affect about 480 employees.
If approved, the plan would shutter Plant Branch in Milledgeville, Plant Kraft in Port Wentworth and Plant McManus in Brunswick, while curtailing operations at Plant Yates in Newnan. The company's request to decertify and retire at total of 15 units at the four plants will be included in a filing with the Georgia Public Service Commission on Jan. 31.
Georgia Power says factors including economic conditions, lower natural gas prices and costs to comply with environmental regulations contributed to the decision. Company representatives could not provide details on the costs associated with complying with environmental regulations
Company spokesman Mark Williams said 480 Georgia Power employees will be impacted by the planned shutdowns.
"They were informed this morning; they were told before anybody else," he said. "The plan now is to achieve all these reductions either through attrition or relocation."
Georgia Power plans to shut down the units by April of 2015 at all of the plants except Plant Kraft, which will be closed by April of 2016.
At Plant Yates, the company plans to shut down five coal-fired generating units and convert the remaining two units to natural gas.
In a statement, Georgia Power President and CEO Paul Bowers said, "These decisions were made after extensive analysis and are necessary in order for us to maintain our commitment to provide the most reliable and affordable electricity to our customers." Bowers added that company representatives are aware of the impacts the planned shutdowns will have on local communities.
The Georgia Sierra Club called the planned shutdowns a victory for clean air and public health.
"If the company chooses to replace this capacity with home-grown, twenty-first century energy technology like solar and wind, their decision will also be good for Georgia jobs," Seth Gunning, a Georgia Sierra Club Beyond Coal organizer said in a statement, "Moving beyond coal and oil is the right decision for Georgia Power."