PSC candidates debate touches on regulation, nuclear reactors

24 11 2008

Republican Lauren McDonald said he knows how to run a business and “my business is the same as the public’s business.”

Democrat Jim Powell said he knows energy and energy planning, and that Georgia needs that more than ever these days.  The two state Public Service Commission candidates faced each other for the last time Sunday, in a debate sponsored by Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Atlanta Press Club. The debate aired Monday night, a week before their Dec. 2 runoff.

Powell won 47.9 percent of the vote on Nov. 4, and McDonald had 47.2 percent. A Libertarian got the rest.

During the debate, Republican McDonald defended the fact that he used to be a Democrat before losing his PSC seat six years ago.

“My philosophy hasn’t changed,” he said. “The Democratic Party has changed. I am not a Nancy Pelosi. I am not a senator from Nevada, Harry Reid.”

Democrat Powell defended his decades of experience at the U.S. Department of Energy, after McDonald questioned what he’d done “while gas prices soared.”

He said he specialized in energy efficiency and renewable energy, areas that hadn’t been supported by the departing presidential administration. He said he was prepared to lead when the incoming administration reverses that.

The two poked at each other’s supporters.

Read on here.

Power Plant Scrubber Project Planned at Yates

24 11 2008

By Sarah Fay Campbell | The Times-Herald

When it comes to sulfur dioxide pollution, Plant Yates and Plant Wansley are two of the worst.

Both ranked among the top 50 SO2 emitting power plants in the country. Sulfur dioxide is the major pollutant from the burning of coal. It can cause respiratory problems, and can combine with other compounds in the air to make fine particle pollution, as well as acid rain.

The 2007 report by the Environmental Integrity Project listed Plant Yates as number 37 in the country for sulfur dioxide emissions per megawatt, and 42 for total tons of SO2 in 2005. Wansley didn’t make the list for the highest rate of SO2 emissions, but was number 17 in the country for total tons of SO2 in 2005.  The two coal-fired powered plants are only about 10 miles apart, as the crow flies. Considered together, the yearly SO2 emissions from the two plants would rank as number three in the country.

But those emissions are going down tremendously as Georgia Power works to comply with the Georgia Multipollutant Rule and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Interstate Rule.

Plant Wansley’s emissions were nearly cut in half when a desulfurization “scrubber” went online last month. A second scrubber will go online in the summer.

Plant Yates will be getting a few scrubbers, as well. But not for a few more years. The timeline for the installation of scrubbers on units six and seven at Yates is 2010 to 2014. Scrubber construction is a pretty slow process. Work on Wansley’s began in January of 2006.

Yates’ unit one already has a scrubber. In fact, the scrubber on unit one was installed in the 1990s as a prototype experiment. The other four units aren’t scheduled to receive the scrubbers.

Yates will also be getting selective catalytic reduction devices on the two units. SCRs reduce the emissions of nitrogen oxides. Nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide together create smog.

The upgrades to Plant Yates should reduce SO2 emissions of those two units from 45,000 tons per year to approximately 2,200 tons per year, said Georgia Power spokesman Jeffrey Wilson. The selective catalytic reduction units should reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from 5,800 tons per year to approximately 1,280 tons.

Together, the scrubbers and SCR units also reduce mercury emissions.

Wansley already has the SCR units.

Read on here.

Georgia asks for review of water war litigation

24 11 2008

by Dana Beyerle | New York Times

The Justice Department doesn’t like Georgia asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review water war litigation, in effect saying a lower court ruling favoring Alabama and Florida should remain.

The Justice Department in court opposes Georgia’s request for review by the Supreme Court of a District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the settlement between Georgia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would have assigned portions of Lake Lanier for Atlanta’s water supply was illegal.

The appellate court said such a major change in Lake Lanier’s operation could not be done without the approval of Congress. Atlanta needs the water that eventually flows into Alabama and Georgia, creating a common state line. Georgia in August asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the D.C. court’s decision.

Home won’t be demolished

The architectural review board in Montgomery won’t let the former home of Gov. Don Siegelman be demolished, even though it would cost more to repair it than it’s worth.

The board last week denied a request to demolish the home in the edge of the historic Old Cloverdale neighborhood south of downtown Montgomery. The residence also was the childhood home of former Montgomery Mayor Emory Folmar. The home is marked by a historic marker that points out the connections to Folmar and Siegelman.

A contractor said it would cost $166,000 to repair the home, built in 1935. It’s valued for tax purposes at $148,500. Siegelman and his family lived in the home from 1979 until he was elected governor in 1998 and moved into the Governor’s Mansion the next year. He sold the home that year for $250,000, twice its appraised value, to a man whom Siegelman later put on a state board, the New York Times Regional Newspapers first reported.

Read on here.