Georgia Power Integrated Resource Plan to Advance Climate Solutions

Advancing Climate Solutions: Georgia Power Integrated Resource Plan

Drawdown Georgia has mapped a promising path to lowering greenhouse gas emissions in our state that orients us to the most effective regional climate solutions, including many high-impact solutions in the electricity sector. As a result, we understand which climate solutions will do the most to move Georgia toward a cleaner, healthier, and more equitable future. 

Advancing Climate Solutions: Georgia Power Integrated Resource Plan

Planning for a Green Future through the Georgia Power IRP

Scaling climate solutions in the electricity sector, like demand response, large-scale solar, landfill methane, and cogeneration, requires careful planning. Every three years, Georgians have an opportunity to participate in the Integrated Resource Planning process (IRP) for Georgia Power, the largest electric utility in our state. The IRP process plays a critical role in charting our state’s energy future for the next 20 years. For example, how much new solar will be built, in large-scale solar farms and on rooftops? How many coal-fired power plants will continue to run? And, will more businesses and individuals participate in energy efficiency and demand response programs?

What is the IRP?

Georgia law requires that Georgia Power, the state’s only investor-owned electric utility, file an IRP every three years. The utility filed its 2022 IRP in late January 2022. In the IRP, Georgia Power estimates demand for energy in its service territory for the next 20 years and then describes in detail how it plans to meet its forecasted load reliably and cost-effectively.

Each IRP process offers an important opportunity for public engagement and gives Georgia residents a chance to help put into practice the high-impact solutions that are part of Drawdown Georgia’s solution set.

Georgia Power’s IRP considers a broad range of utility resource issues that address many of Drawdown Georgia’s high-impact solutions. This includes: 

  • Deploying renewable energy resources, demand response, and energy efficiency programs;

  • Evaluating legacy power plants potentially in need of retirement;

  • Determining what new power capacity the utility may need to acquire; and

  • Scaling up emerging, clean technologies capable of helping the utility reliably meet its demand, such as utility-scale storage, smart metering, and grid modernization.

How does the IRP Process work?

The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) regulates Georgia Power and it has the authority to review and approve Georgia Power’s IRP. The most recent cycle of this process started in late January 2022 with the utility filing. Then, during the months of February and March, Georgia PSC staff filed data requests to gain deeper insight into the Company’s plan. 

In March, Georgia Power filed the direct testimony of its expert witnesses, which was a prelude to the first round of hearings that took place before the Georgia PSC that spring. 

Next, expert witnesses for the Georgia PSC staff and other parties to the case, known as intervenors, pre-filed their testimony and the PSC held hearings on that testimony in May. 

Finally, Georgia Power’s expert witnesses pre-filed their rebuttal testimony and sat for cross-examination during a final round of hearings in June. The process wrapped up with all parties filing briefs, the presentation and discussion of a staff recommendation to the Commissioners, and finally the Commissioner’s decision in July. The whole proceeding takes six months.

How can you get involved in the Integrated Resource Plan Process?

Different stakeholders can engage in the IRP process in different ways; there are a variety of ways to get involved in the IRP process, including:

  1. Making Public Comments – At the outset of the first two rounds of hearings (April and May), the Georgia PSC takes public comments. Those wishing to make public comments must sign up to do so with the PSC staff. The PSC typically allows each commenter to speak before the Commission for 3-5 minutes.

  2. Meeting with Commissioners – Commissioners are popularly-elected constitutional officers. Anyone can contact Commissioners and request a meeting. One-on-one meetings can be a good opportunity to make Commissioners aware of specific issues of concern. Intervenors in dockets must abide by the ex-parte communication rules.

  3. Intervening in the Docket – Some trade associations, nonprofit organizations, cities, universities, and individual businesses opt to participate as a formal party to the IRP by intervening in the docket. The minimum requirement for intervening is filing an application for leave to intervene, a short legal document in which the applicant(s) describes itself and its interests in the docket. While many parties enlist a lawyer to represent them before the Commission, legal counsel is not required. Many intervenors are represented by people that are not lawyers. After intervening, the level of effort by a party to the case can vary depending on its goals. The sub-bullets below describe three hypothetical levels of intervention.

a. Low: intervene in the proceeding to receive and track filings. The participant can elect whether to attend hearings or file a brief.
b. Medium: intervene in the proceeding, review relevant documents and expert witness testimony, attend the hearings, cross-examine witnesses, file a brief, and participate in any settlement negotiations if possible.
c. High: enlist expert witness(es), file expert testimony, put expert witness(es) up for cross-examination, and conduct all activities outlined in the Medium scenario.

Learn More About the Impacts of the 2022 IRP Process

Are you interested in taking a deep dive into how the Georgia Power IRP works and understanding the results of the 2022 process and rate case?

Begin by watching our webinar that takes a close look at the importance of the IRP and the opportunities available to the public to get involved.

And, don’t miss our next webinar on the IRP scheduled for January 31, 2023 at 11 a.m. We’ll hear from the experts at Southface, Georgia Conservation Voters, the Southern Environmental Law Center and more about what the future holds for energy production in our state.

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About Author

Kevin Kelly
Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly serves as a consulting Policy Advisor to Southface Energy Institute and is a principal with Kirkwood & Kelly Consulting. Kevin has worked on natural resource conservation policy and finance issues in Georgia for more than 20 years, including a decade with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.

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