- Officials at Georgia Power say they are working to close 29 coal ash disposal ponds at 11 coal-fired facilities in the state, and say the entire campaign will be completed within 14 years, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports.
- But the bulk of the cleanup will come much sooner: A dozen ponds will be closed within two years, and another 16 are expected to close within a decade.
- The utility's primary focus remains on "maintaining a reliable generation fleet," officials said. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division helped develop the plan, and all pond closures will be certified by a professional engineer.
- The cleanup process will cost more than $1 billion in the next 10 years, the company said.
As the nation begins to leave coal power behind, states heavily dependent on the resource are having to deal with its legacy of coal ash ponds, which can take years to clean up. In Georgia, most of the work will be done quickly but the entire process will stretch more than a decade.
"Our primary focus throughout the closure process is maintaining a reliable generation fleet, while conducting the closure process in the most efficient way possible," Mark Berry, vice president of environmental affairs for Georgia Power, said in a statement.
The utility this week announced it would close all 29 of its ash ponds at 11 sites.
A dozen will close in less than two years, and another 16 within a decade. A single pond has a longer timeframe, Georgia Power said, and could be closed in approximately 10-14 years. The closure of all the ponds will cost upwards of $1 billion over the next decade.
In its statement, the utility explained that ash pond closures are "site-specific and involve complex processes" that examine pond size, location, geology and the volume of material. The company must also ensure reliable electricity for customers during the significant construction work that will take place.
Georgia Power also noted that about half of its coal combustion by-products are being recycled for various uses, such as Portland cement, concrete, cinder blocks and drywall. And the utility said it has invested approximately $5 billion in new environmental compliance technologies for its coal-fired generation fleet.
Over the last five years, Georgia Power has safely retired or fuel-switched approximately 4,000 MW of coal and oil-fired generation and the company's coal-fired generation capacity is nearly half of what it was in 2005.