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Plant Hammond / file-contributed

Georgia Power submitted a new Integrated Resource Plan to the Georgia Public Service Commission Thursday which calls for the decertification of Plant Hammond west of Rome. The utility has seen the end of Hammond coming for several years and the staff at the plant has dwindled down to just 40.

A news release issued by the company does not include a specific timeline for the proposed decommissioning of the plant.

"We've been taking action the past few years to limit spending at Plant Hammond and transition staff to other roles in our fleet across the company," Kraft said. Some people may retire, some may want to do something else, but we have been able to find other positions for all of the people currently employed."

Kraft said Georgia Power has 223 employees based in Floyd County, 40 of them at Hammond.

All four units of Plant Hammond are included in the decertification, as is one unit at Plant McIntosh in Rincon, near the coast. Those are the only coal plant decertification's in the new IRP. A couple of smaller hydro units in Southwest Georgia are also slated for decertification.

Georgia Power said the decision to decertify Hammnd considered future fuel costs, load and energy forecasts and an analysis of available generation technologies.

"We acknowledge the continuing economic pressure felt on coal-fired units," a press release from the company reads.

"Coal fueled-steam units show lower projected value for customers due to continuing low gas price forecasts, lower load forecasts across the system and the need for high levels of investment in the existing plants," Kraft said. "So the decision to decertify is based on that need to make a balanced economic decision that ensures reliable and affordable power going into the future."

"We are starting to take a look at grid resilience, starting to see how that would play with things like our evolving generation mix, more natural gas and renewables and decreasing amounts of coal," Kraft said.

Plant Hammond, which began generating power in 1954, sprawls across 1,100 acres on the north side of the Coosa River. It was named in honor of William Phin Hammond, a Georgia Power employee, who was responsible for the design and construction of all the company generating units for more than 40 years. According to the company website, the four units are capable of producing 865 megawatts of electricity and can supply enough energy to power nearly half a million homes.

A number of years ago Hammond added environmental controls, including a common scrubber for all four units and a SCR system on unit 4, offering the latest environmental controls to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury

Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord said confirmation of the impending shutdown was not a big surprise.

"They've been as open and honest as they could be with us," McCord said. We've already dealt with some of the blow, the reduction of the workforce and sporadic production."

McCord said he's hopeful the community can find a way to repurpose the property in the future.

A Georgia Power fact sheet, which does not include a date for the data, indicates Plant Hammond provides numerous economic and financial benefits, including more than $3 million in tax revenue to Floyd County.

"It's always been a substantial piece of the local economy, it's provided good jobs and added to our tax base," said Ken Wright, director of business and industry services at the Rome Floyd Chamber. "We'll work with Southern Company and Georgia Power moving forward for future use for the property."

"There's no way to replace that (tax revenue)" said Floyd County Tax Commissioner Kevin Payne. "They are our largest taxpayer and there's nobody close." Georgia Power properties are assessed by the state and the company pays several bills. The largest to Floyd County this past tax season was $6,384,000. Payne explained they cannot break out a specific value for the Hammond property alone.