Georgia Power announced Tuesday that it will close two of its coal-powered plants in the US and relocate the remaining 1,100 employees, leaving approximately 1,200 jobs in the state in jeopardy.
Georgia Power CEO Joe Mancini announced the move during a conference call with investors.
The company has announced it will lay off an estimated 3,400 workers.
The announcement comes just months after the company announced it would lay off more than 1,500 workers and lay off its entire workforce in Georgia.
Georgia has one of the highest coal costs in the country, at more than $30 per ton of coal.
Mancinni said the company would use its coal resources to create new jobs and grow the economy in the region.
The utility will sell the remaining coal plants to a private investor.
The state has an obligation to the federal government to guarantee its obligations under a federal law, known as the Waters of the United States Act, which mandates the use of federal coal resources.
The Waters of a United States act has been used to protect more than 12 million acres of federal land in the United Kingdom.
The federal government owns some 1.4 million acres in the West Virginia and Kentucky states.
In Georgia, the Waters are protected by a National Environmental Policy Act, a state law passed in 1991.
The law requires the state to protect the waterways, and Mancino said he expects the decision will be reviewed by a federal court.
Georgia will continue to monitor water quality in the watershed, and the state will continue providing emergency assistance to communities that need it most.
Mucus Creek is a federally protected body of water that flows through eastern Georgia.
Its waters are considered critical for drinking, fishing and irrigation.
The river was designated a state scenic resource by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2009.
Georgia Public Service Commission Chairman Mike Eller told reporters that he expects to announce the company’s next steps in the coming days.
He said the decision was not an endorsement of Georgia Power, but an indication that Georgia Power will focus on economic development.
He expects the company will focus its efforts on the economic development and jobs it can create.
Mascara County Commissioner Brian McPherson told The Associated Press he supports the coal industry, and believes the utility will be able to find new sources of revenue.
He also said he supports Georgia’s role as a coal-producing state.
But he said the state’s leadership should have done more to help ensure a safe and prosperous environment for the people of Georgia.
The PSC issued a report in March 2018 that said it is concerned that the utility’s decision could negatively impact the health of the water quality.
The report, which was produced by a task force made up of a broad range of Georgia stakeholders, found that Georgia has the most severe and chronic water quality problems in the nation.
The water quality is in the worst condition of any state in the Southeast, and Georgia ranks among the worst states for fish and wildlife.
The PSC is a federal agency created by Congress in 1986 to help states and localities manage water pollution and manage risks to public health and the environment.
Georgia’s PSC said in a statement that it welcomes Georgia Power’s decision to exit its two coal plants and relocate 1,800 employees and said the commission supports the state as a leader in coal-dependent industries.
The commission said it will continue monitoring water quality on the Waters in the Waters region, and will work with local communities to assess the long-term impacts of the decision.
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