Last week, Georgia Power executives argued in favor of bringing new wind energy to Georgia consumers at the Public Service Commission (PSC). Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, is asking the Commission to approve two contracts to import 250 megawatts (MW) of wind power from southwestern Oklahoma, enough to power more than 50,000 Georgia homes. The Sierra Club notes that “these wind purchases are cheaper than other forms of electric generation already on the grid and will put downward pressure on rates.” A decision is expected from the Georgia PSC on May 20, 2014, and delivery would begin in 2016.
Since 2011, Southern Company, through its Alabama and Georgia subsidiaries, has already added over 650 MW of wind power to its electric generation portfolio through power purchase agreements with wind farms located in Oklahoma and Kansas. No regulatory rule or law required these wind power purchases. “We are always looking for ways to provide our customers with reliable energy options that are environmentally friendly,” said John Kelley, Alabama Power resource planning director. “These agreements allow us to bring wind energy to our customers without burdening them with investment costs."
This request from Georgia Power shows the high level of demand utilities in the Southeast have for wind energy from the Great Plains. But new wind generation additions cannot continue without new transmission infrastructure to move the power to market. The Plains & Eastern Clean Line is positioned to meet that demand by delivering clean and affordable electricity from the lowest cost wind resources to these regional utilities as they cope with growing environmental regulation and increasing reliance on natural gas.