Wed., October 21, 2009 5:59am (EDT)

Public Debates on Coal Plant
By Mary Ellen Cheatham
Updated: 5 years ago

AUGUSTA, Ga.  —  
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division is considering whether a group of electric cooperatives can build a coal plant near Sandersville.  (photo courtesy U.S. Geological Survey)
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division is considering whether a group of electric cooperatives can build a coal plant near Sandersville. (photo courtesy U.S. Geological Survey)
About 200 people packed an elementary school auditorium in Sandersville on Tuesday to express their views about a proposed coal plant in Washington County.

The public hearing was held by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, which is considering air and water permits for the plant.

Proponents of the coal plant, known as Plant Washington, say it would provide affordable energy and create jobs — about 1,600 during construction and 150 once the plant begins operation.

"Those opposed have no viable alternative to this $2.1 billion investment to this county and it appears they will oppose anything that will diversify our industry, adds wealth to the county and adds depth to the tax digest," says Alan Pryor.

But opponents of the plant worry it would pollute the air and water, and wondered why a plant generating renewable energy couldn't be built there instead.

"There are clean jobs out there," says Larry Warthen. "There are green jobs out there. Why not bring those jobs to the community? We can do it."

The plant would generate enough electricity to supply about 500,000-700,000 homes.