RESOURCE: The 10 most polluting power plants in Georgia

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Atlanta, GA– Ahead of the Georgia Public Service Commission’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) decision and the Supreme Court’s decision on West Virginia vs Environmental Protection Agency, a case that will determine the EPA’s authority to regulate climate pollution, Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center released a new factsheet ranking Georgia’s dirtiest power plants. Though increased renewable energy generation has led to decreased emissions from the power sector, more than 3,400 fossil-fuel power plants are still contaminating American skies and contributing to climate change. 

The new factsheet ranks United States power plants by their contribution to climate change based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) latest eGRID data. The dirtiest power plants have an outsized impact: In 2020, the 10 most climate-polluting plants in Georgia were responsible for 91.5% of global warming emissions from the power sector despite only generating 56.5% of total electricity.

“Our changing climate affects every aspect of our lives, from the air we breathe in our neighborhoods to the food we grow in Georgia,” said Jennette Gayer, Environment Georgia’s state director. “Dirty power plants threaten our health and the climate, yet these super-polluters have filled the skies with pollution for decades without consequence. We need to hold the worst power plants accountable for damaging our climate.”

Georgia is home to 3 of the top 100 most polluting power plants in the U.S. Though many coal plants have been shuttered or converted, methane gas-fired plants are also major contributors to climate change. New research on methane leaks finds that the emissions associated with extracting and transporting methane are a serious climate problem. Though burning methane gas releases less carbon dioxide than burning coal, Plant McDonough, a gas-fired plant near Atlanta still made the nations top 100 list of top polluters. 

Plant Bowen near Cartersville, GA topped the list of dirtiest power plants in Georgia and ranked 23rd in the country. The plant was originally slated for closure by Georgia Power but under a recently released IRP stipulation the closure decision will be left to Public Service Commissioners in July. 

To get power plant pollution under control, the factsheet recommends limiting emissions from power plants and accelerating Georgia’s transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The EPA is expected to work on several power plant rules this year, including the proposed Good Neighbor plan, which would require states to clean up air pollution that travels across state lines. A Supreme Court ruling expected this June, West Virginia vs Environmental Protection Agency, could hamstring the EPA’s ability to set limits on carbon emissions from power plants.

“We can repower our state more cleanly and safely with renewable energy,” said Gayer. “We hope the Public Service Commission will take steps to shut down Plant Bowen, our state’s dirtiest power plant.”

Top 10 Dirtiest Power Plants in Georgia, 2020