Aug 23, 2023
Electricity production is ever-changing, but Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols told the Rotary Club of St. Simons Island that the Peach State is at the forefront.
At a luncheon on Tuesday, Echols walked through seven major trends in green energy, specifically. The first was electric vehicles. It should be obvious to anyone in Georgia, he said, given the recent decision by multiple EV manufacturers to bring their plants to the state.
Volkswagen, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, GM and Stellantis have all pledged to hit targets related to EV sales, usually as a percentage of their overall sales, Echols said.
Natural gas, advanced nuclear power, solar, electric appliances, grit-tied batteries and hydrogen also made the list.
The rising costs of natural gas — largely due to the Russia-Ukraine War and European nations buying more natural gas from the U.S. — driving up electricity bills prompted him to bring up the trends to illustrate how the state can use a variety of methods to keep electricity prices down.
Georgia Power has committed to nuclear power. Plant Hatch and the ongoing expansion at Plant Vogtle, though plagued by rising construction costs, will provide a good chunk of clean power at relatively low costs in the long term.
Turning to electric appliances is good, but he assured a club member who asked that Georgia will not allow individual local governments to eliminate gas appliances and heating entirely.
Solar has a strong foothold in Georgia already, with one of the largest solar farms in the country found right in Twiggs County.
Grid-tied batteries and hydrogen-fueled vehicles are still in the early stages, but he was just as enthusiastic about them as the others.
Already, major distribution centers use hydrogen-fueled forklifts, and he sees innovation bringing that technology to wider applications.
Grid-tied batteries are likely not something private homeowners and small businesses will have to deal with, he said, but they could substantially lower the strain on the grid from huge commercial stores like Walmart and Target.
Essentially, huge batteries or banks of batteries are installed in the back of large stores. During peak consumption periods, like the middle of the day in summer, the batteries kick in for a limited period so those huge businesses don’t draw off the main grid, leaving more power for homeowners and smaller businesses to draw without risking a blackout.
He was confident Georgia will not suffer routine blackouts, though, as long as it continues to diversity and intelligently expand power generation methods.