The Georgia Power Co. executives also told the Public Service Commission that a proposal to make another company a monopoly provider of solar power was unworkable.
The testimony came during the wind-up phase of a series of hearings on Georgia Power’s long-range plans. The company is seeking permission to close 15 coal-fired generators across the state or to convert them to natural gas, which would remove 2,100 megawatts of generating capacity, roughly equal to what will come on line in 2017 with the addition of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro. The company would still have a 25-percent excess to serve as reserves.
Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald has said he wants the long-range plan to effectively double Georgia Power’s solar capacity, which is currently planned to total 271 megawatts.
“This commission will have before it in this (plan-review) process some significant solar activities that we’ll be discussing as we move down the road on this process,” he said.
But Commissioner Stan Wise asked a series of questions that led the executives to explain how expensive adding excess capacity can be or closing additional plants to avoid having a bigger excess.
“If you were aware if there was a move by this commission to force the company to buy power that it clearly did not need and there was going to be costs associated with it, you would be able to quantify it?” he asked.
“Yes, sir, I believe we’d be able to do that,” said Kyle Leach, Georgia Power’s director of resource planning.
A start-up company, Georgia Solar Utilities Inc., is also pushing a plan in the legislature and before the commission to get a statewide monopoly on solar-power production. It has said it would build a large installation in Putnam County where Georgia Power is closing its Plant Hatch. Leach said that proposal lacked details.
“Georgia Solar Utilities’ testimony failed to provide the detailed analysis that would be needed for the commission to even begin to consider its proposal,” he said. “Furthermore, Georgia Solar has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that it’s qualified to undertake the proposed project.”
Five civic leaders from Putnam County appeared to ask the commission to help find a use for the plant site to replace the property taxes that closing it will cost the county. Georgia Solar Utilities has mentioned building a large solar-generation facility there.
“How do we single out Putnam County at the cost of other plants and job losses?” Wise asked.
The commission votes July 11 on Georgia Power’s plan and McDonald’s change to it that would require more solar generation. In the meantime, it will continue to hear testimony from the company under questioning from environmental and consumer-advocacy groups.
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