Utility firm backtracks on biomass plans

Georgia Power, a US-based electricity generation company, has announced it will no longer convert Unit 3 of its 155MW coal-fired Plant Mitchell to biomass.

The reason for cancelling this previously proposed conversion, according to the utility company, comes after 'extensive review and analysis deemed the conversion would not be cost-effective for its customers'.

'We are continuously evaluating our generation mix to determine what sources provide the best long-term value for our customers,' says John Pemberton, senior VP and production officer for Georgia Power. 'Fuel diversity is key in providing clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy and we will continue to leverage natural gas, coal, nuclear and renewables, as well as energy efficiency programmes, as part of our robust portfolio.'

Instead, the company plans to file a request this year with the Georgia Public Service Commission to decertify the unit which, if approved, will see the plant retired by April next year – the compliance date of the US Environmental Protection Agency's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule.

Factors which reduced the benefits of converting the plant to fire biomass include changing market conditions, increased capital costs and costs related to environmental compliance, the recent economic downturn and lower natural gas prices.

The utility says it is still committed to exploring renewables, however, and by 2017 expects to have more than 2,300MW of generation from renewable sources in operation. This includes biomass, landfill gas, wind, hydro and solar.

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