ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Power intends to rely more on solar power than in past years to deliver energy to homes and businesses. It will also close a coal-fired power plant in northwest Georgia.

It's part of the company's long-range energy plan, which was approved recently by the Georgia Public Service Commission, WABE-FM reported .

Under the plan, Georgia Power will close its coal-fired power plant near Rome, Georgia.

Also part of the plan: the company says it will add more wood burning to its energy mix.

Biomass had not been something that Georgia Power initially proposed, but the Georgia Forestry Commission encouraged regulators to consider it in an earlier hearing on the company's long-range plan

Georgia Power will issue a request for proposals for a new 50 megawatt biomass facility in Georgia.

Environmental groups say biomass is not good for climate change, but supporters say its use will provide a boost to south Georgia's economy and the timber industry.

"It will allow the industry to continue to grow and expand, and I do see that adding resilience to rural communities," Public Service Commissioner Jason Shaw said.

Most of the renewable energy in the long-range plan would come from large solar farms, though some of it could be from rooftop solar panels, the radio station reported. It's an increase from what the company had initially proposed, from 1,000 megawatts, to 2,210 megawatts. That's enough power to serve more than 225,000 homes, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Georgia Power has proposed an increase in rates by about 7 percent. Hearings on that matter are scheduled to begin later this year.


Information from: WABE-FM,

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