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Friday, August 5, 2011 - 1:21pm

GA Power: New Rules Could Cost Billions

Updated: 3 years ago.
Plant Branch in Milledgeville will close two coal units. (photo courtesy of Georgia Power)

Georgia Power says the cost of upgrading or replacing power plants to meet stricter environmental rules could cost $5 billion to $7 billion through 2020.

The Southern Co. subsidiary gave its first estimate Friday of what it would cost assuming proposed anti-pollution rules are adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Among other steps, the rules would set tougher limits on acid gas, mercury and particulate emissions from coal and oil-fired power plants.

The company says its financial estimates may change depending on what the final rules require.

Christie Ihrig with Georgia Power says to comply with the impending mercury rule this fall, the company could shutter several coal plants, convert them to gas or retrofit them with pollution controls.

"We’re extremely worried what they might look like because it would directly impact a significant number of our plants but we’re going to have to defer those decisions until we get those regulations finalized," says Ihrig.

Under state law, Georgia Power's nearly 2.4 million customers reimburse the utility for its costs.
Georgia Power formally asked state regulators Thursday to retire two of its coal-fired plants rather than upgrade them to meet tougher, existing pollution standards.

Environmentalists say the company should have seen the regulations coming and invested in cleaner energy sooner.

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