Wind Energy to Power Georgia Homes and Businesses for First Time

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wind turbines in Oklahoma
Georgia will soon begin importing wind energy from Oklahoma
(cc) U.S. Department of Agriculture

In a major step forward for the clean energy economy and public health, thousands of Georgia homes and businesses will be powered by clean wind energy imported from Oklahoma by 2016. Georgia Power has announced a deal to import wind energy from Oklahoma to Georgia customers. The wind power will help stabilize energy rates for Georgia Power customers, will provide a boost to a growing domestic industry, and will avoid the need for power generated from dirty fuels like coal or gas.

“We applaud Georgia Power for taking a strong step forward on twenty-first century clean energy solutions,” said Colleen Kiernan, director of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club. “While there is always room for improvement, it is important to acknowledge Georgia Power’s smart decision. We hope they will follow in the footsteps of their sister company, Alabama Power, by doubling this wind power purchase agreement in the near term. Importing wind power is affordable and promotes clean air for Georgians: it’s a win-win.”

Georgia Power will purchase 250 megawatts of wind power in two separate agreements, which will power approximately 60,000 homes. Alabama Power previously purchased 202 MW of wind power from Oklahoma, and then found the power so affordable that the company purchased an additional 202 MW a few months later. This wind energy will begin powering homes and businesses in 2014. A Georgia-based engineering firm was hired to address transmission issues and ensure the power arrived safely in Alabama.

Across the southeast, utilities are finding Midwest wind power to be amongst the cheapest available energy sources on the market. To date, the Tennessee Valley Authority has signed ten wind power purchase contracts, bringing in at least 1,500 MW of wind power to customers before the end of 2012.

“We applaud Georgia Power’s move in the right direction. Adding wind power not only allows for more consumer choice, a more diversified energy portfolio and thus keeps rates stable over the long term, but helps clean up our air. What’s more, wind power uses no water, so this helps make sure we have enough water supply for our farmers. We look forward to working with Georgia Power to bring even more clean, stable wind power to our state,” added Ashten Bailey, staff attorney for GreenLaw.

“Georgia does not have a single commercial wind turbine operating today, yet the wind industry is still creating jobs for Georgians, who go to work designing and building turbine components, as well as engineering wind energy transmission. Clean energy is Georgia’s greatest untapped job creator, so the Sierra Club is so pleased to see Georgia Power taking positive steps forward to bring more clean energy to Georgia and to grow this vital economic sector,” said Eleanor Hand, chair of the Smart Energy Committee of the Georgia Sierra Club.

The Georgia Public Service Commission is currently reviewing Georgia Power’s Integrated Resource Plan, detailing how the company will generate electricity for the next twenty years. Currently, Georgia Power’s IRP does not include plans to build new clean energy projects in Georgia. The Sierra Club and GreenLaw, along with partners and allies, are working to demonstrate to both Georgia Power and the Public Service Commission that Georgia’s untapped clean energy resources are the most affordable and most prudent choice for generating electricity in Georgia.

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