CONYERS - Developers working to build an 850-megawatt, coal-fired power plant that could eventfully supply electricity to Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corp. received draft permits from state environmental officials Tuesday.
POWER4Georgians, a consortium of Georgia EMC's, announced they have received the draft permits from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division related to the 1,600-acre energy facility proposed to be build near Sandersville in Washington County.
Dean Alford, president and CEO of Allied Energy Services, the developer of the facility, explained EPD issued six draft permits total that deal with the withdrawal of surface and ground water, water discharge, air quality and solid materials.
The next step will be a 60-day public comment period. EPD will hold a public hearing in Sandersville on Oct. 6 and ask for any written comments about the energy facility. The permit applications were filed with EPD in January 2008.
Alford said this was a significant step in construction of the energy facility. Once all the permits are issued Alford said the plant will have a tremendous benefit to the state through job creation, power generation and economic development.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy have criticized the project and argued the plant would be harmful to the environment.
However, Alford countered that the plant has gone through reviews by state and federal environmental authorities and he believes the state-of-the-art design of the plant will protect the environment.
"I believe the federal Clean Air Act, the regulations and the laws of the state of Georgia are there to protect the health and welfare of the citizens," Alford said, "and I believe these laws deal with those concerns very effectively and this plant will meet all of those requirements."
Snapping Shoals is a member of Power4Georgians and remained committed to investing in the $2.1 billion plant despite having four EMCs pull out of the project in May.
Six EMC's remain as partners in POWER4Georgians and are committed to the project, Alford said.
EPD officials will address concerns from the public comments before issuing the permits sometime early next year. Alford said the next step will be to line up financing for construction which is expected to take about 4 years to complete.
Snapping Shoals officials have said the plant is needed as power demands are expected to increase significantly in the coming years.
"The reality of it is we're going to need generation capacity in our state and this is one of the most reliable and affordable means to do that," Alford said.
Jay Jones can be reached at email@example.com.