Hot Debate Over Clean Energy - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Hot Debate Over Clean Energy

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SAVANNAH, GA -

We all have bills, but no one wants to pay more than they should.

Georgia Power is the largest electric provider in our area.

Earlier this year they announced their 20 year plan to reduce waste and eliminate old power plants.

But some say they still are not doing enough.

Tonight, they filled the seats at the Coastal Georgia Center demanding cleaner, cheaper energy options.

Believe it or not they actually had some good things to say about the latest plan.

Every three years, Georgia Power is required to present their energy plan to the Georgia Public Service commission for approval. It's usually filled with many ways they will become more energy and cost efficient, which in turn also helps the consumer, in theory.

Here is a breakdown of what is in the 2013 integrated resource plan:

They have decided to retire15 of its oldest and dirtiest coal, oil, and gas-fired units.

One of those units comes from Port Wentworth's Plant Kraft, which is scheduled to retire in 2016.

The Coweta County plant, south of Atlanta, is converting to natural gas.

But instead of closing or converting Plant McIntosh in Rincon-- lower-sulfur coal will be shipped from Wyoming at rate payers' expense.

Sierra Club's Seth Gunning says it could result in an increase in toxic air and water pollution.

"We are really happy that all across Georgia, Georgia Power has decided to retire their oldest and dirtiest coal plants. We want to see that happen here in Savannah so that the kids in Pooler, Rincon, and across the way in Hinesville aren't suffering from asthma, heart disease and developmental disorders."

Tim Echols with the Georgia Public Service Commission was also in attendance today to field questions and take comments. One after another, Georgia Power rate payers stepped up demanding cleaner, more renewable energy options.

I asked the commissioner why these constituents should believe he has their best interests in mind and this is what he had to say.

"Most government agencies are not elected; they are appointed by the President or by the Governor. The Public Service Commission has 5 elected members. We have to stand for re-election. If people are not happy with us, they can kick us out of office. I think we have to be sensitive to constituents and their concerns."

Next week the Public Service Commission will continue with two days of hearings on this issue in Atlanta with a vote in July.

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