GA Power to delay Plant Mitchell conversion to biomass - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

GA Power to delay Plant Mitchell conversion to biomass

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News release from GA Power Co.

 ATLANTA With the uncertainty of how future U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations might affect industrial boiler emissions, Georgia Power has decided to delay the conversion of coal-fueled Plant Mitchell in Albany, Ga., to biomass until the EPA rules are better defined in April 2010.    

The anticipated industrial boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology rule, or "IB MACT," would regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants, such as certain acid gases, organics, metals, and possibly other pollutants, from industrial boilers and would likely affect biomass boilers like the one planned for Plant Mitchell. 

"Georgia Power is committed to furthering the development of renewable energy in Georgia," said Jeff Burleson, Georgia Power's director of Resource Policy and Planning.  "We're disappointed to have to delay this large biomass project and the benefits it can deliver.  However, by delaying capital spending on the project we're significantly reducing the cost risk to customers."   

Georgia Power had originally planned to begin retrofit construction at Plant Mitchell in April 2011 with the unit becoming operational in June 2012.  A new project schedule has yet to be determined.

Once the new EPA rules are better defined, Georgia Power will evaluate the potential impact they might have on the conversion project at Plant Mitchell.  The company plans to study other boiler technologies in the event the rules significantly impact the cost of the biomass boiler conversion currently planned for the plant.      

Upon conversion, Plant Mitchell will have lower emissions and will be one of the largest wood biomass plants in the United States.  It will also have lower fuel and operating costs when compared to continued operation using coal, thereby making the plant more cost-effective for customers. 

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation's largest generators of electricity.  The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility with rates well below the national average.  Georgia Power serves 2.3 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties.