Georgia Power plans to close all 29 of its coal ash ponds to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) December 2014–finalized rule and forthcoming guidelines governing effluent limitations.
The Southern Co. subsidiary will consult with state regulators, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the Georgia Public Service Commission, to develop and finalize the plan within the next six months, it said on Sept. 28.
“We are developing an ash pond closure timeline that will meet all federal regulations in the most economical way for our customers and our business,” said Paul Bowers, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power.
The EPA’s final rule regulating coal combustion residuals (CCRs) from coal power plants calls for the closure of surface impoundments and landfills that fail to meet engineering and structural standards, and regular inspections of the structural safety of surface impoundments. The effluent guidelines rule, which establishes standards to reduce discharges of pollutants from power plants to U.S. waters, will be finalized soon.
Georgia Power’s 29 coal ash ponds are located around 11 coal plants in Georgia: Plant Bowen, Plant Branch, Plant Hammond, Plant Kraft, Plant McDonough, Plant McIntosh, Plant McManus, Plant Mitchell, Plant Scherer, Plant Wansley, and Plant Yates.
On Tuesday, Duke Energy, which had been dealing with coal ash problems in North Carolina even before a major spill occurred along the Dan River in February 2014, agreed to pay a $7 million fine to resolve all groundwater issues with regulators.
—Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)