The Public Service Commission (PSC) voted on Thursday, July 21st to approve an agreement Georgia Power reached last month with the PSC’s Public Interest Advocacy Staff, to develop additional up to 140 megawatts of renewable energy using biomass.
Commissioner Jason Shaw proposed an amendment to Georgia Power’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), requiring Georgia Power to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to develop the additional biomass capacity. Shaw, who represents South Georgia on the commission, emphasized the importance of moving toward biomass to provide fuel diversity that leads to reliable energy sources and highlighted how the use of biomass would benefit the region’s timber industry. The amendment, which was unanimously approved, strictly outlines that the biomass projects will not have to compete with other renewable energy projects.
“I see the benefits the forest industry has had on the Georgia economy… our forest resources are a renewable resource that is plentiful because of the leadership from the forest industry for many years,” he said, “We are sitting on top of a resource that has enormous potential.”
The first motion for a biomass energy project was made by Shaw in 2019, inspired by the debris left in the wake of Hurricane Michael that could have been used as biomass energy. However, this attempt was short-lived as bids were taken only to be snuffed by the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shaw says they have learned a lot since 2019, the biomass working group he chairs has been looking towards other regions like the Northeast’s biomass energy projects and they are appreciative of research from supporters like Georgia Forestry Association.
As Shaw said, Georgia Power will be providing an RFP for biomass projects by the end of the 1st quarter in 2023 and a power purchase agreement (PPA) will likely be issued in early 2024. Though it remains unclear when biomass facilities will come online, he is hopeful that this will lead to a bright future for biomass energy in our state.
“I have seen what a biomass purchase power request has done for a rural economy that has a facility located there,” he said “This has the potential to grow a huge number of jobs and investments in rural Georgia. Biomass is a small but important part of the future for energy in Georgia.”
GFA’s Government Affairs Team will continue to monitor and report on this issue as it progresses. Please reach out to Destin Kee at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.