GreenLaw Shows Path to Clean Energy Future for All Georgians

Posted Tuesday, December 2, 2014

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GreenLaw Analysis Provides Georgia Perspective on EPA’s Plan
to Reduce Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants

ATLANTA, GA – Georgia can ramp up energy efficiency and renewable power to meet the proposed cuts to carbon pollution – while insuring that these energy options are accessible to all Georgians, according to comments filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday by Georgia-based public interest law firm, GreenLaw.

If Georgia fully embraces renewable generation and energy efficiency, the costs to consumers of implementation under the Clean Power Plan could be less than the business as usual case. With respect to environmental justice, the EPA must take a clear stance to protect affected low income, minority communities by requiring consideration of the effects of these communities in planning at the federal and state level.

The EPA proposed the Clean Power Plan on June 18, which aims to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The deadline for comments was yesterday. States have latitude in deciding how best to comply.

For Georgia, the EPA set the carbon emission target at 834 lbs/MWh to be achieved by 2030, with an interim target to average 891 lbs/MWh between 2020 and 2029. Once adjusted for already-planned actions, Georgia’s proposed target represents a 26.9 percent emission rate reduction from a 2012 adjusted emission rate of 1,141 lbs/MWh.

“These are achievable goals for our state,” says GreenLaw Attorney, Ashten Bailey. “The EPA should not weaken these proposed targets because solar and wind have proven to be cost-effective energy resources for Georgia, and there is significant opportunity to expand energy efficiency resources.”

Under a series of recent programs authorized by the Georgia Public Service Commission, Georgia Power has contracted for almost a gigawatt of electricity to be provided by solar resources, including an expansion of an additional 525 MW of solar as part of the 2013 Integrated Resource Plan and 90 MW of solar on army bases approved on October 23. In addition its leadership position on solar, Georgia has recently taken steps to embrace wind energy. As a result of power purchase agreements for 250 MW of wind from Oklahoma signed in 2013, wind energy will begin flowing into our state in 2016.

There is also significant opportunity to expand energy efficiency resources in Georgia. For example, in 2005, the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority produced a study that showed that Georgia has the potential to save 29 percent of retail sales by 2024.

GreenLaw’s analysis also stresses that the EPA should require states to evaluate the potential impact of increases in emissions on environmental justice communities and develop mitigation tactics for states to implement. This is especially important in states like Georgia that lacks any laws to require state agencies, like the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, to address environmental justice impacts.

“Energy efficiency is a great way the EPA can support environmental justice communities,” states MaKara Rumley, Environmental Justice Attorney for GreenLaw. The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute reports that 1.8 million adults and children – about one in five Georgians – lived in poverty in 2012. Georgia currently has the nation’s sixth-worst poverty rate. Adds Rumley, “the need exists to reduce monthly expenses for low-income communities and employing energy efficiency changes can aid in accomplishing that goal.”

Overall, GreenLaw’s comments assert Georgia has established itself as a regional leader in solar power production in recent years and has already taken strong first steps in phasing out 15 coal and oil-fired units at power plants across the state. “There’s never been a better time to move Georgia beyond coal to clean energy,” concludes Bailey. “We look forward to working with Georgia leaders to develop a strong plan that cuts carbon, cuts costs and boosts our economy with clean energy for all Georgians.”

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GreenLaw is GreenLaw is a Georgia-based nonprofit law firm serving environmental and community organizations that have been adversely impacted by pollution.  Since 1992, GreenLaw has achieved these goals by providing free, high-quality legal and technical assistance to environmental organizations and community groups throughout Georgia. For more information, visit www.greenlaw.org and follow @greenlaw_GA on Twitter.

Media Contacts:

Ashten Bailey abailey@greenlaw.org 404-659-3122

MaKara Rumley mrumley@greenlaw.org 404-659-3122

Follow the links below to view or download documents referencing these developments:

GreenLaw CPP Comments to EPAvfin.pdf

Exhibit A_ 2014 07 04 Atlanta Business Chronical Article state nears goal of 1gigawatt in solar energy.pdf

Exhibit B_Pages from 2014 03 13 Transcript PSC GPC Wind PPA.pdf

GreenLaw CPP Press Release 12 2 14.docx

Tags: Georgia clean energy