Ben Hill Plant

From Global Energy Monitor

POWER4Georgians, a consortium of Georgia electric cooperatives, announced plans to build an 850-megawatt pulverized coal-fired power plant near Fitzgerald in Ben Hill County, Georgia.[1] The proposed plant was to be located on the Ocmulgee River and would have cost about $2 billion.[2]

On January 24, 2012, the Cobb Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) board of directors voted to stop funding the Power4Georgians proposed coal plant projects, Washington Plant and Ben Hill Plant, in Central Georgia.[3] On April 10, 2012, Power4Georgians agreed to cancel the Ben Hill Plant. The company also agreed to comply with updated regulations on mercury pollution for the Washington Plant and invest $5 million in energy efficiency and renewable projects if the plant is built.[4]

Georgia legislature proposes coal moratorium bill

House Bill 276, proposed by Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), would put a 5-year moratorium on building new coal plants and eliminate the burning of Appalachian coal mined by mountaintop removal by mid-2016. The Appalachian Mountain Preservation Act would gradually prohibit Georgia coal consumers from using Central Appalachian mountaintop removal beginning in 2011. The bill is backed by environmental groups including Appalachian Voices but received strong opposition from POWER4Georgians, the group behind the Washington plant.[5][6]

January 2011: Power4Georgian Organizer Dwight Brown indicted

In January 2011, Dwight Brown, Chief Executive of Cobb EMC and the organizer of Power4Georgians, was indicted by the Cobb County District Attorney for theft and racketeering. Cobb EMC was already embroiled in litigation questioning the EMC's financial accountability to its members. Questions have also been raised about Cobb EMC’s involvement in the proposed construction of two coal-fired power plants - Washington Plant and the Ben Hill Plant - which could cost over $4 billion. As CEO of Cobb EMC and of Cobb Energy, Brown organized Power4Georgians, a corporation with five other EMCs, to build and operate the two coal-fired plants.[7]

Four of the original ten EMCs pulled out of Brown’s Plant Washington project, citing high cost concerns, but under Dwight Brown's leadership, Cobb EMC proceeded. During the hearing on the Plant Washington air permit in October 2010, Dean Alford of Power4Georgians testified that Power4Georgians received a no-bid contract to develop the proposed coal-fired power plant. According to the Marietta Daily Journal, “the indictment alleges that Brown used Cobb Electric Membership Corporation as a piggybank to fund various operations and activities of Cobb Energy without approval by the cooperative’s members, as required in EMC’s bylaws.” It is estimated that the development of Plant Washington has cost $27 million to date, of which Cobb EMC paid a significant portion that has never been approved by the coop’s members.[7]

Katherine Cummings, Director of the Fall-Line Alliance for Clean Energy (FACE) and a customer of Washington County EMC, a member of Power4Georgians, wondered, “Will Washington EMC be able to get its rate-payers’ money back from Dwight Brown’s Plant Washington scheme?”[7]

Project Details

Sponsor: POWER4Georgians
Location: Ben Hill County, Georgia
Capacity: 850 MW
Type: Pulverized coal
Status: Canceled


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