- Georgia Power will develop a schedule within six months for the closure of all 29 ash disposal ponds the utility operates in the state, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports.
- The closures are being planned to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's just-finalized Coal Combustion Residual Rule and anticipated guidelines on Steam Electric Effluent Limitation.
- The company said it would work with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the Public Service Commission to develop the plan.
Georgia Power operates 29 coal ash ponds near its 11 generation plants, but said this week it is developing plans to shutter all of the disposal locations.
"We are developing an ash pond closure timeline that will meet all federal regulations in the most economical way for our customers and our business," Georgia Power Chairman, President and CEO Paul Bowers said in a statement. "Safety and compliance will continue to be our primary focus throughout the closure process, while fulfilling our longstanding commitment to protect the environment and the communities we serve."
The utility said it is the "pre-closure process at several retired or converted coal-fired generation sites," which includes some preliminary site work, including ash relocation and tree clearing, as well as considering vendors for potential closure activities.
Georgia Power said that as its reliance on gas and renewables has grown, its production of coal ash and other byproducts has declined, and the utility now recycles more than 50% of its current production.
Furthermore, the infamous 2008 coal ash spill from a ruptured dike owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Dan River spill in North Carolina last year pushed the dangers of coal ash ponds into the national spotlight.
Earlier this week, Duke Energy settled the North Carolina coal ash case for a state record of $7 million to be paid to state environmental regulators, and already shelled out some $102 million in fines and penalties.