Nearly 500 Georgia Power employees could be looking for work. Today the company announced that it is planning to ask the Georgia Public Service Commission to decertify and close up to 15 coal and oil-fired power units or three plants across the state.
Georgia Power expects to ask for the closures to happen by April 16, 2015, which is when the Environmental Protection Agency's mercury and air toxics rule is set to begin. The public service commission is expected to vote on the de-certification request this summer.
According to the Albany Herald, Georgia Power spokesman Mark Williams says that company-wide, 500 employees would be impacted by the closures.
"We hope to trim down as many as we can of those positions through attrition and to shift the remaining employees to other facilities," Williams said.
The company says that factors like the cost to comply with existing and future environmental regulations, recent and forecasted economic conditions, and lower natural gas prices contributed to the decision to close these units.
"They've known for a while now that the federal government is slowly pushing folks to get out of the coal-burning business because of environmental issues," Lemuel Edwards, the general manager at the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission told the Albany Herald. "So MEAG and Georgia Power have been putting a big emphasis on expanding their nuclear power units."
MEAG is a reference to Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, which has a stake in many of the Georgia Power-owned power plants across the state.
The request to close units 3 and 4 at Plant Branch in Putnam County; units 1-5 at Plant Yates in Coweta County; units 1 and 2 at Plant McManus in Glynn County, and units 1-4 at Plant Kraft in Chatham County will be included in Georgia Power's updated Integrated Resource Plan that will be filed with the PSC on Jan. 31.