- A monthly infrastructure report compiled by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission indicates a new 850 MW coal-fired plant the commission says is expected online in April 2022. But the actual status of the plant is unclear, and its development would contrast with more than 13 GW of coal retirements the federal regulator expects in the same time frame.
- The coal plant in question, planned for Washington County, Georgia, was being developed by a consortium of non-profit electric membership corporations under the name Power4Georgians. State records show the entity was dissolved in 2017.
- Renewables advocates hailed the report as a different kind of milestone: it shows utility-scale renewable generating capacity in the U.S. (biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) has surpassed coal for the first time, and more than 40 GW of new green power is expected online in the next three years.
FERC data showing a new 850 MW coal plant in Georgia as a "high probability addition" raised some eyebrows, but it does not appear the project is active. The bigger story is the steady growth of renewable energy, which makes up a majority of anticipated capacity (even with the purported coal plant in Georgia).
"FERC's data also reveal that the nation's renewable energy capacity has been adding, on average, a percentage point each year," according to analysis by the Sun Day campaign. "The share of the nation's generating capacity provided by utility-scale solar alone has more than doubled during the past three years."
The group also noted that wind's share of U.S. generating capacity has increased from 6.43% to 8.25% and "is now on track to surpass hydropower (8.41%) within the next few months."
The renewable advocate also said that "if FERC's projections prove accurate, in three years, renewable energy sources will provide nearly one-quarter (i.e., 24.15%) of the nation's total available installed generating capacity."
Of that, wind would represent just over 10%, hydro 8.16%, solar 4.3%, biomass 1.33% and geothermal 0.33%.
As for the highly probable 850 MW coal plant, a FERC representative told Utility Dive that the coal data came from Velocity Suite; the commission does not have siting authority for those facilities. That is a product offered by ABB, which did not respond to a request for comment on the data.
The electric membership corporations involved "have ceased funding the project, and with construction costs projected to exceed $2 billion, there is no indication that the facility has the necessary financing to proceed," according to the Southern Environmental Law Center.