GreenRoom: April 2009

Georgia Power can build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia free from fiscal worry now that the legislature passed Senate Bill 31, allowing the utility to begin charging customers before the reactors are built.

The Public Service Commission subsequently approved the utility’s construction request. The legislation will most certainly receive Gov. Sonny Perdue’s approval this session amid a flurry of debate.

Opponents say the $300 million in savings Georgia Power expects from early payment doesn’t add up and leaves out big industry. Proponents note that it may be cost-prohibitive to pay the inflated future rates and that the reactors are needed to ensure the state’s power supply.

Either way, it will at least reduce the state’s dependence on coal for electricity, something the utility has been pursuing on its own for a decade, with billions spent on cleaning systems to negate the adverse effects of coal plants, and the planned conversion of Plant Mitchell, a coal plant near Albany, to a “biomass” facility that uses forest waste.

Carroll County has teamed up with the Trust For Public Land (TPL) to conserve 485 acres of property that buffers 1.4 miles of the Chattahoochee River. Moore’s Bridge Park, including the Horace King Historic Site, will serve as a “gateway” to the county with a rich history of Civil War, African American and Native American activity.

Preservation efforts will include the restoration of a wooden bridge crossing the Chattahoochee built in 1858 by Horace King, a widely respected African-American bridge-builder.

TPL sold the land to the county for $4.47 million, about $641,000 below fair market value; it also donated its services and $250,000 for the project to the county, which bought the property with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds earmarked for greenspace.

Though the site is not yet open to the public, Carroll County Commission Chairman Bill Chappell spoke of reviving the county’s historic tourism; the historically significant James Moore house also is located on the property.

“This area was one of the most important unprotected heritage areas remaining in the Southeast, and it could play a significant role in the county’s evolving heritage tourism initiative,” said Chappell.

In the last six years, TPL has helped Carroll County conserve 10 properties totaling about 2,000 acres with a savings to the county of more than $5 million.

Attorneys representing the Altamaha Riverkeeper (ARK) have filed suit against Rayonier, Inc. in Jesup for violating the Clean Water Act. The ARK reports that polluted discharge is fouling the river’s waters, and claims to have documented the effluent 30 to 40 miles downriver – with complaints all the way to the coast that boaters have caught weird fish and are nauseated by the discharge’s smell. ARK has been fighting Rayonier since 2001.

“The cleanup has stalled and we must get it moving again,” said ARK Director Deborah Shepherd.

Cobb County is planning to improve its bicycle and pedestrian paths. More shared use paths, sidewalks, and street bike lanes could be considered, as well as a “Safe Routes to School” program and an extension of the Silver Comet Trail to the Chattahoochee River.

Gainesville is finishing the final phase of a trail system that stretches from downtown to Lake Lanier. By summer, the project will connect Rock Creek Park at the corner of Academy and Northside Drive to Ivey Terrace Park, creating a continuous 1.8-mile trail system to the edge of Lake Lanier. The project also will create a 225-seat open-air venue adjacent to the city square. The $395,000 expansion project is supported by a $300,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation, according to the city’s park department.

Categories: Green Room