Georgia Power has proposed retiring more than 3,500 MW of fossil fuel-fired capacity as part of a long-term resource plan filed Jan. 31, including unit 3 at the 3,440-MW Scherer plant, pictured here.
Georgia Power Co.'s latest integrated resource plan outlines how it intends to shutter the vast majority of its remaining coal-fired capacity and double renewable generation while maintaining reliability.
"To meet the changing needs of our customers we must prepare now to build the electric system and energy infrastructure of the future," Georgia Power Chairman, President and CEO Chris Womack said in a Jan. 31 statement. "We believe this IRP outlines how we will do that."
The Southern Co. utility files an integrated resource plan, or IRP, with the Georgia Public Service Commission every three years to outline how it will deliver power to its 2.7 million customers over the next 20 years. (Docket No. 44160)
Coal retirements, gas procurement
Georgia Power proposed retiring and decertifying all of the coal units it controls except units 3 and 4 at the 3,232-MW Bowen plant, which will continue to operate "no later than Dec. 31, 2035," the company said in its plan. The four-unit Bowen plant began service in 1971. Units 1 and 2 are the oldest and generate about 806 MW and 789 MW, respectively, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. Units 3 and 4 entered service in 1974 and 1975, and each has a capacity of 952 MW.
The company's plan includes the retirement of 12 generating units totaling more than 3,500 MW owned by Georgia Power by 2028, which if approved, would begin later this year and continue through 2028. Those units include the 1,744-MW Wansley's units 1, 2 and the oil-fired unit 5A and the 18.6-MW Boulevard's oil-fired unit 1 by Aug. 31 of this year; Bowen units 1 and 2 by the end of 2027; and the 1,852-MW E.C. Gaston's gas-fired units 1-4 and oil-fired unit A and the 860-MW unit 3 of the Scherer plant by the end of 2028. Georgia Power shares ownership of these units with several other utilities.
To facilitate those retirements, Georgia Power proposed certifying an additional 2,356 MW of capacity from natural gas power purchase agreements procured through its 2022-28 capacity request for proposals, along with a significant increase in renewable generation, the company said in its plan.
Georgia Power plans to double renewable generation, adding 6,000 MW by 2035, including a request for approval of 2,300 MW in the plan filed Jan. 31.
The proposed new capacity would expand Georgia Power's renewable portfolio to about 11,500 MW by 2035, the utility said.
Along with additional renewable generation, the company requested approval to own and operate about 1,000 MW of energy storage by 2030, which includes a specific request to own and operate the 265-MW McGrau Ford battery facility.
The utility also proposed continuing investment in its hydro plants, including the Burton, North Highlands and Sinclair Dam facilities, to improve system operations and ensure they continue to run "for another 40 years."
Georgia Power's IRP includes the same target in-service dates for two new, 1,117-MW reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle Nuclear Plant, the expansion of which has been plagued by delays and cost overruns for years. Units three and four are planned to go into service in the third quarter of 2022 and second quarter of 2023, respectively, the company said.
Georgia Power's 2022 IRP also outlines more investments in grid reliability and resilience given the proposed coal fleet retirements, including long-duration storage, hydrogen, tall wind technologies and distributed energy resources, according to the plan.
The utility said it plans to continue investing in Bowen units 3 and 4 because the plant is "critical to preserving reliability and resiliency in north Georgia and cannot be retired at this time without jeopardizing system reliability." The plant is in Bartow County, northwest of the metro Atlanta area.
Georgia Power plans to maintain the current 16.25% long-term target reserve margin for the Southern Co. system as the summer target and 26% for winter.
Because Georgia Power can share resources across the Southern Company system, it can carry fewer reserves than the system target. As a result, the utility proposes a summer target reserve margin that will apply to Georgia Power of 15.28% over the long term and 14.78% in the short term. Its proposed winter target reserve margin will be 25.18% over the long term and 24.69% over the short term, according to the 2022 IRP.
Along with generation and transmission investments, Georgia Power's IRP details plans for demand-side resources, such as energy efficiency and demand response programs.
The 2022 plan includes some programs proposed under prior IRPs along with several new options, including the Distributed Energy Resource customer program, which would allow participating customers to receive a resilience service through a company-operated and maintained distributed energy resource. Participating customers could elect to receive a credit in exchange for the company's access to the distributed energy resource during system reliability issues.
Another proposed plan, the Income-qualified Community Solar Pilot, would provide income-qualified customers access to community solar-generated energy "at discounted prices," the company said, provided through participating corporate sponsors that receive corresponding renewable energy certificates.