New Analysis Shows Moving Beyond Coal to Clean Energy Will Cut Carbon and Boost Georgia’s Economy
Sierra Club and GreenLaw Give Three-Point Proposal for New Clean Power Plan
ATLANTA, GA – The Sierra Club and GreenLaw have announced a new analysis that lays out how Georgia can meet the proposed cuts to carbon pollution while creating jobs, lowering power costs and promoting clean air and water. Georgia has established itself as a regional leader in solar power production in recent years, will soon import low-cost wind power and has already taken strong first steps in phasing out 15 coal and oil-fired units at power plants across the state. GreenLaw and the Sierra Club released the analysis today as the Georgia General Assembly holds its scheduled hearing on the Clean Power Plan and its impacts on Georgia.
“Climate disruption is already impacting Georgia, threatening our economy and communities. The good news is that cutting carbon pollution through common-sense steps will bring real benefits to Georgians, including cleaner air, more secure water resources and thousands of good jobs,” said Colleen Kiernan, director of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Our biggest opportunity lies in boosting energy savings, a no-regrets investment with almost unlimited potential in Georgia.”
Georgia’s economic competitiveness requires smart, cost-effective planning in the electric sector, yet currently Georgia ratepayers are footing the bill for coal plants that are so expensive they rarely run. Additionally, conventional coal, gas and nuclear plants require huge, inflexible capital spending that ties Georgians’ hands to buying out-of-state fuel.
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed new safeguards not only protect our health and communities, but they will also spur innovation and strengthen our economy,” said Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, executive director of GreenLaw, an environmental law firm representing Sierra Club in Georiga. “Our analysis shows how Georgia can cut pollution and meet proposed pollution reductions with common-sense, money-saving investments in energy savings, wind and solar power.”
The analysis laid out three key components to cutting carbon pollution and bringing benefits to Georgia:
- Solidify planned coal retirements and phase out additional non-economic coal units in Georgia to meet 33% of the proposed carbon reductions.
- Ramp up energy efficiency to 1.5% annual savings by 2030 and achieve an additional 48% of the target reductions.
- Add solar and wind power, with these clean energies producing 10% of Georgia’s power by 2030, to achieve the full proposed target reductions in carbon pollution.
Energy efficiency is the most widely available and lowest-cost option for reducing carbon emissions, and according to recent analyses, Georgia has untapped potential to save energy and money through simple, low-cost measures widely available to homes and businesses. Furthermore, an analysis by the Cadmus Group found that every million dollars invested in energy efficiency programs in the Southeast, including Georgia, created more than 17 full-time jobs and more than $3.8 million in economic output per year.
Nationwide, 180 coal-fired power plants are locked in for retirement while wind and solar continue to reach new milestones every year. Clean energy prices are the lowest in history, and according to a recent report from the Lazard Group, clean energy is cost-competitive with coal and gas-fired power.
“There’s never been a better time to move Georgia beyond coal to clean energy,” said Kiernan. “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.”
See the analysis here.