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Washington County Power Station, GA

STATUS: In progress with opposition

TYPE: Coal

OPPOSITION: Altamaha Riverkeeper; Center for a Sustainable Coast; Environment Georgia; The Georgia Conservancy; Georgia Interfaith Power & Light; Georgia River Network; Micah's Mission; Mothers and Others for Clean Air; Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeeper; Physicians for Social Responsibility/Atlanta; Satilla Riverkeeper; Sierra Club; Turner Environmental Law Clinic at the Emory University School of Law; and Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper

PROSPECTS: Indeterminate

BACKGROUND: Power4Georgians L.L.C. is a consortium of Georgia electric cooperatives.  In January 2008, it announced plans to build a 854 mega-watt coal-fired power plant near Sandersville, GA and filed permit applications. At that time, the participating co-ops were Jackson EMC, Cobb EMC, GreyStone Power; Snapping Shoals EMC, Diverse Power, Upson EMC, Central Georgia EMC, Pataula EMC, Excelsior EMC and Washington EMC. The planned approximate $2.1 billion plant was to burn a mix of pulverized low-sulfur coal from the Powder River Basin and eastern U.S. coal, and was expected to create over 1600 jobs.  Environmental groups immediately targeted the project as part of their strategic, nationwide effort to block development of all coal-fired power plants. 

In February 2009, a bill was introduced in the Georgia legislature to force Georgia utilities to cease using Appalachian coal mined by “mountaintop removal” and suspend all permits for new coal fired power plants filed before July 2009.  By May, four of the co-ops (Jackson EMC, Diverse Power, GreyStone Power and Excelsior EMC) withdrew from the project citing “a really uncertain regulatory environment,” in Washington, D.C.

Attorneys, funded by the environmental groups, have filed multiple legal challenges to the air and water permits granted the project by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).  On April 8, 2010, EPD issued final air and water permits for the project.  The opponents sued alleging water diversion and air emission claims.  On July 23, 2010, an administrative law judge sent the water permits back to EPD for additional review, but upheld the final air permit. In late September 2010, Sierra Club and others asked a state judge to overturn the final air permit.  EPD rewrote and reissued the water permits, scheduling public comment for December 2010.  

SOURCES: http://power4georgians.com 
http://www.ajc.com/business/content/business/stories/2009/05/19/coal_co_op.html http://www.georgiaepd.org/air/airpermit/html/permits/psd/dockets/plantwashington/index.htm

LAST UPDATED: November 11, 2010