Regulators approve Georgia Power IRP, including costs to study potential new nuclear generation
- The Georgia Public Service Commission approved a long-term resource plan for the state's largest utility that focuses on the addition of carbon-free resources, including 1,600 MW of renewable power and the possibility of new nuclear generation.
- The PSC approved Georgia Power's Integrated Resource Plan yesterday on a 4-1 vote, and then by the same tally also allowed the utility to recover and capitalize the costs related to investigating and potentially licensing new nuclear units.
- The largest portion of the IRP increases the utility's Renewable Energy Development Initiative (REDI) to procure 1,200 MW of renewables, including 150 MW of distributed generation and 1,050 MW of utility-scale resources. Wind came make up no more than 300 MW of those resources.
In two separate votes, the Georgia PSC moved to add more carbon-free resources to the state's portfolio, primarily investing in solar energy, with some wind and the potential for nuclear.
"Adding renewables and nuclear together makes sense," Commissioner Tim Echols said in a statement. "I am committed to keeping rates low and energy plentiful, diverse and clean."
“I believe this IRP strikes the right balance between ensuring Georgia Power customers have reliable service and the right mix of resources while at the same time not paying for un-needed resources,” said Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton.
In addition to the REDI resources, regulators signed off on an additional 100 MW of distributed generation; Georgia Power will issue an RFP next year, with a commercial operations date in 2018 or 2019.
Georgia Power will also construct 200 MW of "self-build renewable capacity," including potential projects at Robins Air Force Base and Fort Benning. The commission specified the projects must be at or
below Georgia Power's avoided costs, and no more than 75 MW of this capacity may be used for nonmilitary projects.
There IRP also calls for 1 MW for a pilot solar demonstration project by “The Ray” along the Interstate 85 corridor near LaGrange, Ga. The pilot must be completed by 2019; the capacity is included in the 75 MW of non-military selfbuild. That selfbuild capacity also includes 3 MW of community solar.
Other points of the IRP include:
- approval of Georgia Power's High Wind Study; regulators are requiring quarterly reports on the status of the study;
- an increase in Georgia Power's long-term reserve planning margin to 16.25%;
- closure of Plant Mitchell Units 3, 4A, and 4B; Plant Kraft Unit 1 CT; and Intercession City CT.
- approval of the a closed ash pond solar demonstration project.
As to the utility's plans to add new nuclear generation, regulators voted to allow Georgia Power to incur $99 million in costs for a site suitability study and development of a Combined Operating License application for a plant in southwest Georgia.
Georgia Power is authorized to recover funds through the second quarter of 2019 on the project. The PSC said that if it determines in 2019 that efforts to obtain an operating license should be suspended, "any cost incurred to that point in time will be deferred for recovery in a future rate case."
“Nuclear power remains among the lowest cost energy source, with a 92 percent reliability rating and it is carbon free. Nuclear deployment takes time and I refuse to sit on my hands,” said Commissioner Stan Wise.
Bloomberg reported Southern CEO Fanning is focused on the development of more nuclear plants, but said it is impossible in deregulated markets. He wants the federal government to consider a public-private partnership that would get around the difficulties of financing new nuclear.
“The deregulated markets don’t work; you have to find a way around those,” he said.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Ga. Power agrees to bigger solar and wind boost
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