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Coal conversion saves costs for Georgia Power and customers

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Georgia Power has completed the third and final phase of its 840 MW natural gas combined-cycle units at Plant McDonough-Atkinson.

The new combined-cycle natural gas units at Plant McDonough-Atkinson are now all online and producing electricity. (Credit: Georgia Power)

The first unit went online in December of 2011; the second in April of 2012.

The three units, the last of which became operation at the end of October, represent one of the largest generation sources on Georgia Power's system. Together, the plants can produce in excess of 2,500 MW of energy -- more than five times the electricity of the coal units they replaced and enough to power about 625,000 homes.

Georgia Power retired the two Plant McDonough-Atkinson coal units at the end of September 2011 and the end of February 2012, respectively. Removal of the plant's stack will be complete by June 2013.

A scheduled rate increase will not happen next year because Georgia Power is saving enough fuel to offset the increase thanks, in part, to the coal to natural gas conversion of Georgia Power's McDonough-Atkinson units.

Earlier this week, Georgia Power filed a request with the Georgia Public Service Commission to reduce fuel rates by about 7 percent and total annual billings by approximately $122 million. Customers will save around $1.82, or 1.6 percent, on their total monthly bill.

"Our state-of-the-art natural gas facility at Plant McDonough-Atkinson is already bringing tremendous value to all customers through lower fuel costs," Georgia Power President and CEO Paul Bowers said in a statement. "Investments like this, plus new nuclear, 21st century coal, renewables and energy efficiency, are further examples of how the Georgia Public Service Commission's long-term planning process benefits all Georgians by ensuring clean, safe, reliable energy at costs below the national average."

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