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Power4Georgians LLC on April 8 announced the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has issued final permits for the operation of Plant Washington, an 850 Megawatt coal-fired energy facility in Washington County, Georgia.
The permits issued by EPD to Power4Georgians LLC include: Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit for air quality; National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for water discharge; a groundwater withdrawal permit; a surface water withdrawal permit; and a notice of site suitability for the solid waste handling facility.
The permits are the culmination of more than two years of work by Power4Georgians’ development team not only to meet but to exceed Georgia EPD’s rigorous air and water quality standards. Although the air and water standards in Plant Washington’s draft permits, issued by EPD in August 2009, represented standards that are acceptable under the strictest guidelines of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Power4Georgians continued to work to reduce emissions levels further while also developing an unprecedented water management strategy.
“We made significant and positive changes in our application to make our permits among the very best, if not the best, in the country,” said Dean Alford, spokesman for Power4Georgians. “We responded to suggestions raised with regard to air and water and now have exceptional standards that far exceed the strictest federal regulations for protection of human health and the environment.”
Through careful review of more than 2.5 years of testing data, as well as an evaluation of the technology and coal types to be used, Power4Georgians was able to devise a strategy that produced significant reductions of the emissions levels contained in the draft permit. As a result, Plant Washington’s overall emissions profile, based upon the final permit, will be among the lowest that has ever been proposed for a coal-fired power plant in the United States.
For example, preliminary evaluations conducted in the fall of 2007 – before the initial permit application was filed with EPD in January 2008 – placed the maximum annual emission of mercury at approximately 120 pounds; that level was reduced to approximately 105 pounds per year in the draft permit. Depending on the blend of fuel used, Georgia EPD’s final permit will limit Plant Washington’s mercury emissions to between 62.2 and 55.6 pounds annually – roughly half the original mercury emissions levels.
In addition, developers were able to devise an unprecedented water management strategy to conserve and reuse water, reduce water withdrawal from the environment and allow zero discharge of stormwater from the plant site.
To accomplish these water management standards, what had been stormwater runoff retention ponds in the draft permit were converted to stormwater collection and storage ponds. Collected stormwater will be reused at the plant, reducing the use of river water and groundwater. In addition, by using the stormwater as makeup water for the plant, there will be zero discharge of process or contact water to either the Ogeechee or Oconee river basins.
“These permits demonstrate that the process works,” Alford said. “In the months since we received the draft permits, we listened closely to Georgia citizens and the EPD and conducted the engineering work to ensure a much more stringent level of operational and environmental standards. I am pleased to report that we achieved every objective.”
A key component to Power4Georgians’ success in obtaining final permits for Plant Washington from the EPD was its development team. These organizations, each with their own unique expertise, included: Allied Energy Services, BLACKACRE, Cookerly Public Relations, Energy Consulting Group, Fluor Corporation, King & Spalding law firm and MACTEC Engineering.
When construction begins, the plant is expected to take approximately four years to build and will create up to 1,600 professional construction and skilled trade jobs. When complete, Plant Washington is expected to create between 120 and 130 new jobs onsite, as well as an additional 200 to 300 new secondary jobs in supporting businesses and industries. The plant will generate enough electricity to meet the annual needs of 500,000 to 700,000 Georgia homes.