The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) today approved Georgia Power's 2022 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which sets forth a proactive, innovative and transformational roadmap for how Georgia Power will continue to meet the energy needs of customers, local communities and the State of Georgia for future generations.
"As Georgia continues to grow and the energy landscape continues to evolve, it's incredibly important that we keep making the smart investments needed for our customers to have clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy for decades to come. The approval of our latest Integrated Resource Plan helps us do just that," said Chris Womack, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. "Working constructively with the Georgia Public Service Commission, we are committed to building the future of energy for our state, and these investments in our electric grid and energy infrastructure will help ensure that every customer, whether at home or running a business, has the energy they need to thrive."
Georgia Power files an IRP with the Georgia PSC every three years to outline how it will provide energy to its 2.7 million customers over the next 20 years. The approved 2022 IRP delivers a comprehensive strategy to both transform Georgia's energy sources and help to ensure that the state's network of transmission lines and grid infrastructure continues to deliver reliable energy to Georgians – both today and in the future.
The decision comes following months of an open, constructive review process resulting in a stipulated agreement in June among the company, the Georgia PSC's Public Interest Advocacy Staff, Georgia Association of Manufacturers, Commercial Group and the Georgia Coalition of Local Governments, including Atlanta; Athens-Clarke County; Savannah; DeKalb County; and City of Decatur. Throughout the IRP process, Georgia Power, the Georgia PSC, and many participating parties evaluated the company's plan for how it expects to transition its fleet to more economical, cleaner resources; invest in its transmission system to make it smarter and even more reliable and resilient; roughly double its renewable and solar capacity; focus on energy storage solutions; and offer innovative energy efficiency programs and renewable subscription programs for customers.
Transforming Georgia's Energy Sources, Growing Renewable Energy
As coal-fired generation continues to be less economically viable, the Georgia PSC has approved the retirement and decertification of all Georgia Power-controlled coal units by 2028, with the exception of Plant Bowen. Following today's decision, the Georgia PSC is expected to reevaluate Bowen 1 & 2 as part of the company's next regularly scheduled IRP in 2025. To facilitate this strategic fleet transition, the Georgia PSC also approved more than 2,000 MW of capacity from natural gas power purchase agreements (PPAs) in the coming years.
Georgia Power has worked with the Georgia PSC and many renewable energy stakeholders over the years to develop a nationally recognized portfolio of cost-effective renewable programs, including solar and other sources. The approved 2022 IRP will allow the company to build on this success by adding an additional 2,300 MW* of new renewable energy resources over the next three years, which will support the company's long-term plan to add a total of 6,000 MW of additional renewable resources by 2035. This will roughly double its currently approved renewable portfolio and support the company's overall transition to cleaner, more cost-effective energy resources for customers.
With 17 hydroelectric generation facilities currently in operation, hydro is an important part of Georgia Power's reliable, carbon-free generation mix. In the 2022 IRP, the Georgia PSC approved additional investments in Plants Sinclair, in operation since the 1950s, and Burton, in operation since the 1920s, to help ensure they can continue to reliably serve Georgia.
Investments in Reliability, Resilience
The approval of the 2022 IRP furthers Georgia Power's commitment to making the state's electric grid smarter and more reliable, with additional investments and plans to continue to enhance the reliability and resilience of the grid. The plan includes investments in new distributed generation and helps to ensure that the company has sufficient reserve margin, or generation capacity, available to meet demand during periods of extreme heat or cold.
As Georgia's energy mix continues to evolve, battery energy storage systems (BESS) will be essential to maintaining reliability and to accommodate the increasing amount of intermittent, renewable generation sources coming online. Following the 2019 IRP, Georgia Power has made progress on multiple new BESS facilities currently under development, including a 65 MW project in Talbot County (Mossy Branch) and a 13 MW project with the US Army at Fort Stewart near Savannah.
By approving the 2022 IRP, the Georgia PSC has again recognized the importance of this technology by approving, with additional review prior to construction, Georgia Power's largest single BESS project to date – the McGrau Ford Battery facility located in Cherokee County. This battery storage resource will consist of a 265 MW lithium-ion facility interconnected at the McGrau Ford substation. Once operational, the facility is expected to add greater resiliency to the electric grid by allowing Georgia Power to store energy onsite to help power thousands of homes and businesses when needed. The Georgia PSC also approved an additional 500 MW of battery storage.
Delivering Diverse, Flexible Customer Programs
The customer is at the center of Georgia Power's planning process, and the approved 2022 IRP includes multiple innovative customer programs designed to promote reliability and resiliency, such as the Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Customer Program. The DER Customer Program enables participating customers to receive a resiliency service via a company-owned, operated and maintained DER, such as a solar and battery energy storage system. Participating customers may also elect to receive a credit in exchange for the company's ability to access the DER for the benefit of all customers during a system reliability event. The Georgia PSC today approved this program as a 250 MW pilot, which is expected to provide system reliability benefits for all customers while supporting commercial and industrial customers with enhanced resiliency needs.
In addition, the approved IRP includes, for the first time, an Income-Qualified Community Solar Pilot, that will allow income-qualified customers to participate in the company's Community Solar program at discounted prices.
The approved 2022 IRP also includes a robust Demand Side Management Plan, which helps customers conserve energy and save on their energy bills year-round. Important Demand Side Management programs approved today include the continuation of the Home Energy Efficiency Assistance Program (HEEAP) and the extension of the Residential Investment for Saving Energy (RISE) Pilot, which promotes energy efficiency improvements in qualifying existing, income-qualified single-family homes and a limited number of multifamily properties. As part of today's decision, the Georgia PSC also increased funding for the DSM program and increased related energy efficiency targets for the company.
To learn more about how Georgia Power is meeting the needs of customers through a diverse, balanced energy portfolio, visit www.GeorgiaPower.com/IRP.
* REC Disclaimer: Georgia Power purchases only the null energy output from some renewable generating facilities that have contracted to sell that energy to Georgia Power. Ownership of the associated renewable energy credits (RECs) is specified in each respective power purchase agreement. The party that owns the RECs retains the right to use them.
About Georgia Power
Georgia Power is the largest electric subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), America's premier energy company. Value, Reliability, Customer Service and Stewardship are the cornerstones of the company's promise to 2.7 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties. Committed to delivering clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy at rates below the national average, Georgia Power maintains a diverse, innovative generation mix that includes nuclear, coal and natural gas, as well as renewables such as solar, hydroelectric and wind. Georgia Power focuses on delivering world-class service to its customers every day and the company is consistently recognized by J.D. Power and Associates as an industry leader in customer satisfaction. For more information, visit www.GeorgiaPower.com and connect with the company on Facebook (Facebook.com/Georgia Power), Twitter (Twitter.com/GeorgiaPower) and Instagram (Instagram.com/ga_power).
SOURCE Georgia Power