Georgia Power Plant Hammond was officially decommissioned during a vote by the Georgia Public Service Commission on Tuesday morning. The first of the four coal-fired units at Plant Hammond came online in 1954.
The plan approved by the PSC calls for Georgia Power to add 2,260 megawatts of new renewable (solar, wind or biomass) generation to the company’s energy mix.
“Working with the Georgia PSC, we are positioning Georgia as a leader in the Southeast in battery energy storage, which is critical to growing and maximizing the value of renewable energy for customers as we increase our renewable generation by 72 percent by 2024,” said Allen Reaves, Georgia Power’s senior vice president and senior production officer, in a press release. “Through the IRP process, Georgia Power will continue to invest in a diverse energy portfolio including the development of renewable resources in a way that benefits all customers to deliver clean, safe, reliable energy at rates that are well below the national average.”
Future plans call for development of a pilot solar project on top of some of the closed Hammond ash ponds.
The closure of Plant Hammond and one unit at Plant McIntosh on the Georgia coast is yet another step away from coal generation.
Coal-fired plants have been the frequent target for environmentalists for reasons from air quality emissions to the storage of coal ash.
“Even though Georgia Power is right to cut back on dirty, climate-disrupting coal, it’s still moving much too slowly to phase out fossil fuels and it lags in helping families and businesses get more access to money-saving energy efficiency programs,” reads a statement from the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club.
Several of Georgia Power’s plants have converted to burn natural gas, however company officials have indicated in the past that conversion of Plant Hammond would require a massive capital investment.
Employees at Plant Hammond received the 2015 Spark of Energy Award for their efforts to clean up Rome’s waterways. The employees used to host a fishing tournament each year, but changed that to a river cleanup effort over a decade ago. Volunteers have worked annually to clean up the local rivers, removing tons of trash, everything from old boats to refrigerators and tons of tires from the local waterways.
The decommissioning of the plant will have a significant impact on the Floyd County tax base, however the real impact of Tuesday’s action won’t be felt for another year because of the way the property is assessed.
Plant Hammond was named to honor of William Phin Hammond, a Georgia Power design engineer who was the employee responsible for the design and construction of many of the utility’s generating plants for nearly 40 years.