PSC approves closing Plant Yates coal units

by Sarah Fay Campbell

The Georgia Public Service Commission approved Georgia Power's plan to shut down coal-fired units at several power plants, including Plant Yates in Coweta County, in a 4-1 vote Thursday. The state's regulatory body amended Georgia Power's "integrated resource plan" to require it to triple the amount of solar energy it will use in the future.

Georgia Power announced its "advanced solar initiative" last year, which will add 275 megawatts of solar power to its portfolio.

The PSC voted to require an additional 525 MW of solar by 2016.

That's roughly equivalent to the generating capacity of Plant Yates’ Units 1 through 5, which will be shut down under the plan. Units 6 and 7 will be converted to natural gas. A natural gas pipeline is already in place at the plant, said Mark Williams, Georgia Power spokesman. There will be some retrofitting work that will need to be done to the units to get them to run on natural gas, Williams said.

The shutdown and conversation is set to take place April 16, 2015.

Whether any parts of the plant will be actually taken down is "still to be determined," Williams said.

Also included in the IRP are continuing environmental upgrades to some of Georgia Power's other coal-fired plants, including Plant Wansley on the Chattahoochee River in Heard and Carroll counties. The upgrades are needed to bring the plants into compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Mercury and Air Toxics Standards," better known as MATS.

The work at Wansley is already under way, said Williams.



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