Georgia Turned From Coal To Natural Gas And Now Renewables

State Economy

The population of the state of Georgia is approximately 10.8 million people[1]. Georgia is the 8th largest state in population in the United States.

In 2020, Georgia’s economy was ranked 9th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The state’s economy is dependent on agriculture (peaches, pecans, and peanuts), textiles, timber, biofuel, and tourism.

Environment Policies

Georgia is one of only 13 states that has neither a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) nor a goal[3]. State policies include energy standards for public buildings, interconnection guidelines, and solar easement regulations.

In December 2020, Georgia utilities used natural gas (43.7%), nuclear energy (27.6%),coal (18.8%), and  renewable energy (9.9%) to generate electricity[4]. Hydropower, solar, and biomass are the primary sources of renewable energy in the state.

Georgia’s reliance on inexpensive natural gas and renewable energy contribute to state’s below average cost of electricity. In December 2020, the average cost of residential electricity in the state was 10.80¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 12.80¢ per kWh.

Recent renewable energy developments in Georgia include:

  • 20 MW Solar Project – In January 2021, American solar company, Silicon Ranch Corporation commissioned the Odom Solar Farm, which is located in Colquitt County in southwest Georgia.
  • 25 MW Solar Project – In January 2021, American infrastructure company, IEA commissioned the Appling Solar Farm, which is located in Appling County in southeast Georgia.
  • 50 MW Biomass Project – Electric utility, Georgia Power has announced plans to accept bids for the construction of a biomass power plant.
  • 100 MW Solar Project – In January 2021, IEA commenced work on the Lumpkin Solar Farm, which is located in Lumpkin County in northern Georgia. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2021.
  • 200 MW Solar Projects – In March 2021, Georgia cooperative Green Power EMC and Silicon Ranch Corporation commissioned three utility solar power projects in southern Georgia.

Conclusion

Coal mining began in the northwestern region of Georgia in the 1830s[5]. Coal was initially used to fuel forges, furnaces, and steam engines. Georgia’s last coal mine closed in the 1980s.

In 2005, coal was the primary fuel used to generate electricity in Georgia. The coal used to fuel Georgia’s power plants is brought by rail primarily from Wyoming and Illinois.

Escalating mining and rail transport costs make the cost of electricity from coal-fired power plants significantly more expensive than renewable energy or even natural gas. Over the last fifteen years, Georgia utilities have turned from expensive coal to inexpensive natural gas.

Georgia has significant renewable energy resources, including solar, biomass and offshore wind. State utilities are now turning to solar, which is even cheaper than natural gas. Economics have driven Georgia utilities from to coal to natural gas, and now to clean, low cost, renewable energy.

 

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”
www.jackkerfoot.com

 

[1] Georgia Population 2021, World Population Review

[2] U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

[3] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, January 4, 2021

[4] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Georgia State Profile and Energy Estimates

[5] US Department of the Interior, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement – Georgia

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