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Clean Air News

Today, dozens of Sierra Club members, clean energy supporters and Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) staff testified in favor of bringing new clean, affordable wind energy to Georgia consumers. Georgia Power, the state’s largest electricity provider, is asking the Public Service Commission to approve two contracts to import 250 megawatts (MW) of wind power, enough to power more than 60,000 Georgia homes, from wind farms in Oklahoma. In written testimony, Public Service Commission staff indicated that Georgia Power customers could save even more money on electricity bills if the company signed additional contracts for affordable wind power.
A proposed tariff on solar energy generators, Plant Vogtle and an overall price increase proposed by Georgia Power dominated a discussion with Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols on Wednesday.
Around 100 residents let Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols know how they feel about Georgia Power's proposal to raise rates once again—they don't like it. The state's largest utility is asking state regulators to approve a $478 million dollar rate hike that would go into effect on January 1, 2014—jacking up the average customer's monthly bill by about 8 dollars.
Today the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) voted to approve Georgia Power’s proposed $870 million rate increase on its 2.1 million customers statewide. Based on today’s action, residential customers could pay up to $100 more per year by 2016, when the full rate hike takes effect.
Georgia Power bills, once again, are going up. The state Public Service Commission Tuesday approved a rate hike of $873 million over the next three years. GreenLaw's client makes comment on the issues via Seth Gunning of Sierra Club.
The Georgia Public Service Commission unanimously approved a settlement Tuesday that will increase Georgia Power’s rates by about a $100 a year for the average residential customer by 2016.
Today the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) voted to approve Georgia Power’s proposed $870 million rate increase on its 2.1 million customers statewide. The PSC responded to public outcry against Georgia Power’s proposed solar tax, but Georgians will still be paying in advance for costly upgrades to aging, increasingly obsolete coal-fired power plants. Based on today’s action, residential customers could pay up to $100 more per year by 2016, when the full rate hike takes effect.
Mark Bell, chairman of the Georgia Solar Energy Association, has issued a statement on the agreement between Georgia Power and the Georgia Public Service Commission not to include a tariff on Georgia’s solar installations.
Bubba McDonald is a half-full kind of guy.
Where Florida utilities and state leaders see skies that are partly cloudy and too dim for solar power, he envisions potential. That optimism led the Georgia utility regulator to push his state toward the ranks of the Top 5 in utility-scale solar energy, along with California, Arizona, New Jersey and Nevada — and far ahead of Florida.

Georgia's solar energy businesses and consumers won an important victory today when the Georgia Public Service Commission (Commission) made public a new proposed agreement with the state’s monopoly utility, Georgia Power Co. In the new stipulation, Georgia Power dropped its proposed solar tax after experiencing overwhelming Commission and staff disapproval.
Georgia Power has tentatively agreed to cut its proposed rate hike by roughly 40 percent, according to a deal reached Monday between the Atlanta-based utility and staff members of the Georgia Public Service Commission.
“Unconscionable” and “theft” were two of the words used Thursday evening to describe a residential rate hike and fee on solar installations proposed by Georgia Power.

More than 50 people attended a meeting sponsored by Georgia Watch and the Sierra Club at the Coastal Georgia Center to discuss the issues.

The rate hike, proposed in July, would have average residential customers paying almost $8 more a month. Some homeowners with solar panels would pay a new monthly fee of about $22 by Georgia Power’s estimations.

Utility regulators should reject a fee Georgia Power Co. wants to impose on customers who install solar panels on their properties, a member of the Georgia Public Service Commission and a consultant say.
Juliette’s Plant Scherer remains the largest single emitter of greenhouse gases in the United States, data released Thursday from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows.
The four coal-fired generating units together generated an estimated 21.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions last year. Nearly all of that came from carbon dioxide emissions, though the plant also released methane and nitrous oxides equivalent to about 165,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Local leaders, faith leaders, public health officials and environmental advocates gathered today at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listening session to call for action on the unchecked carbon pollution from power plants. Bold action on carbon pollution from power plants, which are responsible for 40 percent of the U.S. carbon pollution that causes climate change, is vital to protect public health.
Georgians who install solar panels on their homes or businesses should not have to pay a special fee proposed by Georgia Power, utility regulators said Friday.
The Southern Co. subsidiary wants to assess a charge that would add roughly $22 a month to the bill of someone who builds a typical residential solar system starting next year. The utility says customers with solar panels still need to pay a fair share of the costs of running an electric grid even if they are buying less electricity from the power company.
The staff of the Public Service Commission has recommended against adopting that charge, saying Georgia Power has not proven that solar customers are dodging any costs.

The state Public Service Commission held its second day of hearings on a Georgia Power request to charge residential ratepayers about $8 more per month.
Part of the request includes a new tariff on solar users, a proposal facing much scrutiny.

New federal safeguards for coal pollution cast further doubt on the fate of the proposed Plant Washington coal-fired power plant in Sandersville, GA. The new standards come as the nation shifts toward cleaner sources of energy, with 149 existing coal-fired plants scheduled for retirement, 179 proposed new plants canceled since 2001, and recent high-profile bankruptcies have highlighted coal's inability to compete in the marketplace.
ATLANTA -- A new list of proposed federal greenhouse gas rules is affecting a piece of land near Sandersville slated to be the site of a coal-fired power plant. The proposed rules mean a year or more of questions, uncertainty and delay that may be a hurdle too high for a plan that has stumbled in the past few years.
Macon, GA –Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center released a report today on the banks of the Ocmulgee River in Macon GA. The Riverwalk that runs along the Ocmulgee flooded earlier in the year following extreme rain events. The combination of heavy rains and extreme drought is a pattern that has been felt all over the state and is in line with what scientists predict will become more common due to climate change.  Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center’s report ranks Georgia 8th in the country for most carbon pollution from its power plants, and ranks Plant Scherer as the number one largest single source of climate change pollution in the country.
Georgia is first in the country. Not in education, or job growth, or the health of its citizens. This week Georgia was given the dubious honor of housing the nation’s dirtiest coal-fired plant – none other than Plant Scherer.
In politics, the right decision is rarely the easy one. Taking an action outside the expected norm takes political guts, plus standing up to powerful interests. And that’s what happened on July 11th when Georgia Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald led the effort to add 525 MW of solar to our state’s energy mix. He was joined in that vote by fellow commissioners, Tim Echols and Doug Everett. And Commissioner Chuck Eaton voted in favor of the overall plan.
On June 28, 2013, GreenLaw submitted adverse comments to EPA's proposed rule-making regarding the Atlanta Area's reasonable further progress plan toward clean air attainment.
In a decision applauded by political groups across the spectrum, the Georgia Public Service Commission, (PSC), voted to approve Georgia Power’s proposal to retire 20% of its coal plants and added a new program to bring 525 megawatts, (MW), of solar power developments to Georgia by 2016.
Environmental regulators in Georgia have started implementing a law requiring that they allow people to pay a fee to get a faster decision on permits.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it would consider the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts to reinstate the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which would require significant reductions in air emissions for power plants, including those located in Georgia.
A broad group of consumer and environmental advocates, business officials and nonprofit leaders urged Georgia Power to add more renewable energy to its electricity mix over the next two decades.
April showers bring Mayflowers, which sometimes trigger allergies and asthma attacks. Only pollen is not the only factor contributing to the incidence of asthma attacks. The children of Georgia have a higher rate of the chronic airway disorder than the national average, so our children are especially vulnerable to air quality.
The Green Energy biomass plant proposed for Lithonia received its air quality permit to operate from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division on April 26.

The 23-page permit said that “at all times, including periods of startup, shutdown, and malfunction, the Permittee shall maintain and operate this source, including associated air pollution control equipment, in a manner consistent with good air pollution control practice for minimizing emissions.”

In a major step forward for the clean energy economy and public health, thousands of
Georgia homes and businesses will be powered by clean wind energy imported from Oklahoma by 2016. Georgia Power has announced a deal to import wind energy from Oklahoma to Georgia customers.

On Monday, GreenLaw filed a suit in federal court on behalf of the Sierra Club claiming the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to meet a statutorily imposed deadline of January 20, 2012 to act on a state regulation that had been submitted for incorporation into Georgia’s Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan.
Citing recent air quality reports, on March 6 GreenLaw became the only organization to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding Atlanta’s clean air re-designation. The comments were filed on behalf of Mothers and Others for Clean Air and the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Join the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Senator Lester Jackson (Dist. 2) for "Wind Energy Day" at the Capitol on March 20th.
After years of grassroots challenges, White Stallion Energy Center developers have chosen to suspend the proposed plant in Matagorda County, Texas. GreenLaw congratulates The Sierra Club, Public Citizen, SEED Coalition, Environmental Integrity Project, Environmental Defense Fund and the No Coal Coalition on the victory!
On Monday, Georgia Power announced that it aims to take a total of 15 units at Plant Branch, Plant Yates, Plant McManus, Plant Kraft and Plant Boulevard offline. The move follows nationwide trends by public utility companies who are turning to renewable energy sources. In fact, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, coal use has dropped to its lowest levels in generations, and is powering less than half of America’s homes and businesses.
CrossRoadsNews, June 15, 2012: In comments filed to the EPD on Green Energy Partners application for an air permit to operate the facility, GreenLaw and Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment (CHASE) said the developer underestimated the amount of pollution the $60 million plant will emit.
Citing time constraints and conflicts of interest, Friday GreenLaw filed comments with Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD) regarding the expedited permitting process for air permits urging the agency to keep permitting review in-house, rather than using third parties. The comments were filed on behalf of Mothers and Others and the Georgia Chapter of the American Lung Association.
Check out this Associated Press article, quoting GreenLaw's Stephanie Stuckey Benfield. On Friday, November 16, GreenLaw filed comments regarding EPD's expedited air permits.
Citing clean air and public health concerns, Wednesday GreenLaw filed a petition with the EPA, urging the agency to revise the Title V Operating Permit for Southern Power’s Plant Wansley in Heard County, Ga.
Atlanta, GA - GreenLaw, on behalf of Ogeechee Riverkeeper, Inc., submitted comments on King America Finishing, Inc.'s (King America) Draft Title V Permit. The Title V permit is supposed to limit air pollution from King America's Dover facility, which sits near the Ogeechee River, the site of a massive fish kill in May 2011.
Despite the fact that power plants contribute nearly half of all toxic air pollution, today the D.C. Circuit Court vacated the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which would have required significant reductions in air emissions for power plants, including those located in Georgia.
Updates on the proposed biomass facility near Lithonia, GA
Comments were submitted by GreenLaw to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) on behalf of Fall-Line Alliance for Clean Environment, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and Sierra Club, opposing the issuance of a Title V Air Permit for Plant Wansley. Concerns cited include the failure to define ownership of the units, and to include all sources of air pollution on the site.
Atlanta, GA – Clean air advocates and environmental groups won a victory yesterday when Power4Georgians (P4G), the only company trying to develop expensive new coal plants in Georgia, agreed to cancel the proposed Ben Hill coal-fired power plant. The company also agreed to comply with critical new safeguards against mercury pollution and invest $5 million in energy efficiency and renewable projects. The Sierra Club, the Fall Line Alliance for a Clean Environment (FACE), Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), and the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center and GreenLaw, successfully challenged the permit for Plant Washington issued by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, and the settlement agreement is pending approval by each group. If built, Power4Georgians’ Plant Washington will have to meet the much more protective emission standards for mercury and other air toxins
UPDATE: On March 20th, the PSC approved the decertification (retirement) of Plant Branch Units 1 and 2. GreenLaw has let the Georgia Public Service Commission know that Georgia Power isn't going far enough by retiring two aging coal-fired units at Plant Branch near Milledgeville. Georgia Power has proposed the retirement of Plant Branch Units 1 and 2. Based on Georgia Power’s own analysis, additional pollution controls that are required to meet public health standards would render the operation of these units uneconomical. However, Georgia Power is requesting that the PSC approve four power purchase agreements to add a total of 1,562 MWs to its portfolio but is simultaneously deferring the decision to retire several other coal units that are old and uneconomical. Even Georgia Power admits that this would create excess capacity.
The ten year saga of whether a New Jersey-based LS Power should be allowed to build the Longleaf Energy Station (Longleaf), a massive coal plant slated for construction in southwest Georgia, has ended with the company’s announcement that it will withdraw all requests for environmental permits for the facility. GreenLaw has been representing Friends of the Chattahooche and Sierra Club in a series of legal challenges to those permits that have culminated in the cancellation of the Longleaf coal plant.
December 21, 2011: A consortium of environmental groups has filed another appeal of the state air permit for a new coal-fired power plant planned near Sandersville.Plant Washington, being built by a group of electric cooperatives called POWER4Georgians, has a price tag of about $2 billion.
December 19, 2011 -The state air quality permit for Plant Washington, a proposed 850 mega-watt coal-fired power plant in Sandersville, GA, does not meet national public health standards that even 50 year old coal-fired power plants already meet, according to a court challenge filed today by GreenLaw and other groups.
The country’s longest-running campaign against construction of a new coal plant ended today as LS Power, a New Jersey-based power company, announced that it will cancel plans to build the Longleaf Energy Station in Blakely, GA. Sierra Club, Friends of the Chattahoochee and GreenLaw have been organizing against the Longleaf coal plant since it was first proposed in 2001. This victory comes as part of a legal agreement between LS Power and Sierra Club.
The detailed files from the fight to stop Longleaf Energy Station, a proposed dirty coal plant in Early County, GA.
April 10, 2012: A settlement is reached in the air pollution permit appeal for Plant Washington. Power4Georgians agreed to cancel plans for a second coal-fired power plant, Plant Ben Hill, and agreed to comply with critical new safeguards against mercury pollution for Plant Washington, as well as invest $5 million in energy efficiency and renewable projects.
Comments were submitted by GreenLaw to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) in November 2011 opposing two Title V air pollution permits for coal-fired power plants in northwest Georgia near Cartersville, Plant Hammond and Plant Bowen, the second largest generating plant in the Western Hemisphere. In December 2011, comments were also submitted on Plant Mitchell.
November 2, 2011: The controversial Longleaf Energy Station proposal hit another obstacle as environmental organizations filed an appeal in Fulton County Superior Court identifying errors in the approval of an air quality permit for the plant. Although the Longleaf plant is the largest new source of air pollution Georgia has allowed for decades, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) classified it as a “minor source” of hazardous air pollutants, a decision that was later upheld by a state administrative law judge. The legal challenge was filed by Sierra Club and Friends of the Chattahoochee represented by the environmental public interest firm, GreenLaw.
GreenLaw submitted comments to the Georgia Environmental Protection Agency opposing the re-issuance Title V Air Pollution Permit for Plant Scherer, a coal fired power plant located near Macon, GA. Plant Scherer is Georgia Power Company’s largest coal-fired facility and is one of the nation's largest emitters of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants in the nation.
October 7, 2011: Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens says this week’s lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency over the cross state air pollution rule is one of several challenges already in the works. The regulations target pollution from coal power plants.
Olens says power companies don’t have enough time to comply. But environmental lawyer Kurt Ebersbach with GreenLaw says the rules have been expected for years.

August 1 2011: EPD issued a final permit for Longleaf following the remand that occurred in April. You can find the narrative for the permit here, and the final permit here. Because the ALJ maintained jurisdiction over the permit during the remand, no appeal is needed for the case to proceed. As such, the permit challenge is back before Judge Howells.
August 29, 2011 - After successfully challenging the air quality permit for Plant Washington, the state was forced to revise the permit. The state environmental agency redrafted the permit, and GreenLaw submitted extensive comments on the air permit in our efforts to continue to hold the line against this ill-advised coal plant.
April 2012: A settlement is reached with Power4Georgians in which the consortium agrees it will not build coal-fired Plant Ben Hill.
June 30, 2011 - Georgia Power will be allowed to delay installing pollution controls on two of the four units at its aging coal-fired plant in Milledgeville. Read more: CrossRoadsNews - Ga Power can delay controls on pollution
June 16, 2011 – State and local environmental organizations have reached an agreement that will provide habitat protection for fish in the Oconee River near Plant Washington, a proposed 850 MW coal-fired power plant in Washington County near Sandersville, Georgia. The Altamaha Riverkeeper, the Fall-line Alliance for a Clean Environment (FACE) and the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center and GreenLaw, settled their challenge of the water discharge permit for the proposed plant.
March 29, 2011 – The United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") today reversed a 2008 decision that had weakened Alabama laws limiting emissions from smokestacks. In one of its final actions, the Bush Administration allowed Alabama to ease restrictions on the amount of smoke that sources such as power plants may emit. Today’s rulemaking action by EPA is a victory for cleaner air across Alabama and especially in areas like heavily-polluted Birmingham, which has failed to meet federal air quality standards for dangerous fine particulates for many years.
National organizations released a report detailing the hazards of coal ash waste across the country. Their conclusions for Georgia? Although near the top in volume of coal ash stored, Georgia's regulations are so weak - with almost nonexistent monitoring requirements - that state regulators do not even know the risk facing our citizens.
December 16, 2010 —A Georgia state court today rejected Georgia’s air quality permit for Plant Washington, a proposed 850 mega-watt coal-fired power plant in Sandersville, GA
December 8, 2010 – Attorneys for GreenLaw, a nonprofit public interest law firm, acting on behalf of two citizens’ groups, Friends of the Chattahoochee (FOC) and the Sierra Club, Georgia Chapter, filed a petition today requesting a hearing to challenge the state Environmental Protection Division (EPD) decision approving the construction of the largest new proposed coal-fired power plant in Georgia, Longleaf Energy Station. Longleaf is a project of New Jersey-based LS Power, which can sell the power to buyers anywhere in the U.S. and is not subject to regulation by Georgia’s Public Service Commission.
On June 2, an Administrative Law Judge dismissed an appeal filed by GreenLaw on behalf of Sierra Club and Friends of the Chattahoochee challenging the Longleaf Energy Station (Longleaf), further delaying this project that was first proposed in 2001. The dismissal came after the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) withdrew the permit amendments voluntarily, based on GreenLaw's challenges of May 10. EPD will now send the permit back out for public review. EPD has already set a new public hearing date to be held in Early County on July 1st.
On May 10, 2010, attorneys from GreenLaw and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), acting on behalf of seven citizens’ groups, filed petitions for hearings challenging permits for two major proposed coal-fired power plants in Georgia. In response to an unprecedented wave of permits issued by the state Environmental Protection Division (EPD) in April, the groups are fighting back with important claims against the water and air pollution permits proposed for Plant Washington, to be built in Sandersville, and against the air pollution permit for Longleaf Energy Station, to be built in Early County.
On April 8 and 9, the state Environmental Protection Division (EPD) issued six approvals to two coal-fired power plants, the Longleaf Energy Station in Early County, southwest Georgia, and Plant Washington, in Sandersville, Georgia near Macon.
By Joseph E. Lowery
January 17, 2010 - “Somehow the forces of justice stand on the side of the universe, so that you can’t ultimately trample over God’s children and profit by it.” — Martin Luther King Jr., “The Birth of a New Nation,” April 7, 1957

I believe that [King] would be crying out against any coal-fired plants, rising anew or already operating, because they spew dangerous pollutants into the air and drain our precious waters. I believe he would be a mighty force in convincing us that coal plants are no longer needed in our beloved Georgia — or anywhere else.

Taxpayers in Washington County face serious risks and will likely not reap the financial and employment perks that supporters of the proposed Plant Washington are promising if the $2.1 billion coal-burning plant is built, according to an independent analysis released October 8 by the Ochs Center. That assessment provided by the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies, a Chattanooga, Tenn.- based non-profit research group, shows that prior projections of new revenue for Washington County from Plant Washington may be off the mark and County taxpayers may be left holding the bag for new infrastructure costs.
July 27, 2010 - A judge's ruling Monday in a Washington County power plant case will make it more difficult to pipe water from one Georgia water basin to another.
Click here to read more.


The Georgia Open Records Act (GORA), which allows citizens to inspect all public records, is the cornerstone of good government. It allows citizens to know whether their tax dollars are properly spent and, in the context of the environment, whether the government is adequately protecting citizens from harmful pollution. That is why GreenLaw was dismayed to discover that the state Environmental Protection Division (EPD) may have been destroying emails pertaining to the construction of new coal-fired power plants that have the potential to emit millions of tons of harmful pollutants.



May 20, 2009 - GreenLaw Executive Director Justine Thompson today commended the wisdom of four Georgia electric membership corporations (EMCs) for their decision to pull the plug on their partnership to build an 854 mega-watt coal-fired electric power plant in Washington County with a consortium of six other EMCs.
7/16/2008 - GreenLaw Executive Director Justine Thompson - special to the AJC
At GreenLaw, we call June 30, the day of Judge Moore's decision, "the day the lights came on in Georgia," because the most important light bulb we can turn on is the one in our heads that makes the connection between the energy we use and where it comes from. That's illumination.

June 30, 2008 – Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore issued a decision today effectively halting construction of the first coal-fired power plant proposed in Georgia in over 20 years. The decision overturns an administrative court’s ruling that affirmed the state Environmental Protection Division’s (EPD) decision to issue an air pollution permit for Dynegy’s Longleaf plant. In practical terms, Dynegy cannot begin construction of the plant unless it can obtain a valid permit from EPD that complies with the Court’s ruling. The Judge held that EPD must limit the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the plant, a decision that will have far-reaching implications nationwide; this is the first time since the April 2, 2007, Supreme Court decision finding that CO2 is a pollutant that a court has held that the Clean Air Act requires that CO2 from industrial sources be limited.
June 18, 2008 - GreenLaw, Sierra Club and Friends of the Chattahoochee welcomed a call by New York City’s Comptroller for an investigation of taxpayer subsidies for risky, old-fashioned coal-burning electric power plants such as the Longleaf Energy Station (Longleaf). In a letter to the United States Treasury Department, New York Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. urged a review of policies that permit tax-exempt bonds to pay for dirty, coal-burning power plants.
March 31, 2008 - The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments from GreenLaw on behalf of Sierra Club and the Coosa River Basin Initiative (CRBI), which seek to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require Georgia Power to clean up four of its power plants, including Plant Bowen (Bartow County) and Plant Scherer (Monroe County), which have been ranked as two of the dirtiest plants in the country and have been operating in violation of the Clean Air Act for over twenty years.
View the Title V Handbook, a great resource for informing citizens about the Title V Air Pollution process.
Two to three million people die every year of illnesses related to air pollution – one of the 10 main causes of death on the planet. In Georgia, more than half of our state population lives in areas where it is unsafe to breathe because of high levels of smog and other harmful pollutants. GreenLaw works to clean up the dirtiest coal-fired power plants, prevent construction of new coal-fired power plants and encourage the development of renewable energy in Georgia. By forcing industrial polluters to pay for the environmental costs of energy production, we can create a cost competitive market for renewable energy.

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