Georgia Power’s Bowers pushes solar misinformation out the next fifty years

Paul Bowers, CEO of Georgia Power, doubled down on baseload nuclear, coal, and natural gas for the next fifty years. What’s he scared of?

Nick Coltrain wrote for OnlineAthens yesterday, Renewable push not in the cards for Ga. Power,

Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers in Georgia Trend, November 2011 “Renewable (energy sources are) going to have a sliver,” Bowers said of fuels to create electricity. “Is it going to be 2 or 4 percent? That’s yet to be determined. Economics will drive that. But you always remember (that renewable energy is) an intermittent resource. It’s not one you can depend on 100 percent of the time.”

One time you can depend on it is hot summer days when everybody is air conditioning, which is why Roger Duncan of Austin Energy in 2003 Austin Energy flipped in one year from spouting such nonsense to deploying the most aggressive solar rooftop rebate program in the country. Austin Energy did the math and found those rebates would cost about the same as a coal plant and would generate as much energy. And when it is needed most, unlike the fossilized baseload grid, which left millions without power in the U.S. in June and hundreds of millions without power in India in July.

Bowers knows better than the nonsense he just spouted; as recently as November 2011 he told Georgia Trend,

“Quite frankly, I see the cost curve coming down significantly for solar applications, and that’s very, very positive.”

And he added,

“It does coincide with our peaking requirement. When customers start arriving at home in the afternoon from 4:00 till 7:00, that’s when we usually peak with highest demand and capacity requirements.”

Speculation in a later post as to why he’s doubling down on denial now. Back to the OnlineAthens article.

“What we don’t want to do is have the (Public Service) Commission to say we want to be green and accept a higher price that puts upward pressure on everybody,” Bowers said. “Our position is we’re going to raise the price for everyone. Even if you didn’t want solar, you would be paying for it because of the elevated costs.”

Nuclear construction charge on Georgia Power bill That’s pretty rich coming from a company that got the legislature to mandate in 2009 that Georgia Power can (and is already) charge customers around 5% extra for power from the new nukes at Plant Vogtle that nobody is getting yet and won’t for years, if ever.

Further, Bowers said advances in coal-burning technology make it possible to use even the least-efficient types of coal by converting it into a synthetic natural gas, complete with the end result of a footprint similar to the amount of pollutants to come out of a natural gas plant.

If so-called “advanced coal” is so good, why is Cobb EMC CEO Chip Nelson Georgia Power’s parent Southern Company (SO) is trying to get the Mississippi PSC to do what the Georgia legislature already did and approve a stealth tax rate hike for Mississippi Power customers to build its pilot Kemper Coal Plant in Mississippi? And why has Cobb EMC this year suddenly switched from coal to solar for new power?

Southern Company's three-legged nuclear regulatory capture stool If nuclear is so great, why does it take SO a three-legged regulatory capture stool of a legislated stealth rate hike, GA PSC approval of Georgia Power passing cost overruns through to customers, and an $8.33 billion federal loan guarantee?

I think Bower’s great big stonewall has to do with growing competition from another source of power with plenty of private capital waiting to invest if we can get SO and Georgia Power’s regulatory-capture stonewall out of the way. More on that in a later post. Or Georgia Power could follow the examples of Austin Energy and Cobb EMC and start acting like its motto: “a citizen wherever we serve.”


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