Nov 9, 2021 - News

Southern Company to shut 80% of coal capacity by 2028

Plant Bowen from above

Plant Bowen in Euharlee, Georgia, about 40 miles northwest of Atlanta. Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images

Last week Southern Co., the parent company of Georgia Power, publicly announced that it plans to close more than half of its coal fleet (about 80% of its coal-generating capacity) by 2028.

State of play: The company was required by the federal government to either update pollution controls on existing plants or close them by 2028.

The company filed notice with the state Environmental Protection Division of its plans last month.

  • The plan still needs to be approved by the Public Service Commission in January during the company’s integrated resource planning (IRP) process, which sets a three-year plan for the state’s energy needs. A Georgia Power spokesperson tells Axios exact closure dates will be available after the IRP.

Of note: Southern Co. has already committed to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Georgia Power operates 10 coal-powered generation units across three plant sites. Currently, about one-third of Southern Co.’s energy supply is carbon-neutral.

  • Once Georgia Power's plan is complete, only four units will remain between two sites: Plant Bowen in Euharlee and Plant Scherer in Juliette.
  • Georgia Power told WABE earlier this year that within a few years its portfolio will be about a quarter renewable.

What they’re saying:

“After years of pressure from grassroots organizations, clean energy advocates, and concerned community members, Southern Co. has finally decided to take a step in the right direction and close down some of the dirtiest power plants in its fleet. Southern Co. deserves credit for making this decision, but there is still work to be done.”
David Rogers, Southeast Deputy Regional Director for the Beyond Coal Campaign, Sierra Club

Yes, but: The closure of these units is complicated because of the jobs they support.

Southern Co. CEO Tom Fanning promised that the company will continue to place “a high priority on protecting the interest of our employees and the communities we are privileged to serve” as they move forward.


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