Dear Editor: I am writing to you in regards to biomass energy production. In July of 2019, Georgia Renewable Power began operations in my town. Their main stack is seven tenths of a mile from my home. The dream of quiet country living has been shattered by this "beast" in my backyard.
Biomass energy production is not clean, in fact, it is dirtier than coal. It is not renewable either, unless you call garbage (aka construction and demolition debris) renewable. The fact that they are shipping in waste from Northern states indicates that rural Georgia is the new garbage can for the nation. Renewable energy in northeast Georgia began with the practice of burning creosote treated railroad ties. As opposition mounted, local and state leadership berated citizens for complaining and being worried about the health risks. I can count on one hand the leaders that encouraged us, helped us and celebrated the passing of HB857 into law. Now Georgia Renewable Power is shipping in "clean" C&D and our town stinks like a landfill.
Every time we checked on a complaint from the citizens, we found a violation. This company does the absolute least they can get away with, and only makes changes when forced by law. They pollute our air, land and water. Their noise assaults us 24 hours a day, and the odors from the fuel yard and dryers are worse than the occasional chicken house clean out. The sun is always rising at GRP and stars in the night sky are not so bright anymore. Your hard-working constituents made sacrifices to escape the city and GRP brought it into our very backyards.
I am extremely disappointed in the support that the Georgia Public Service Commission gives to biomass energy production. It is obviously a money grab for federal energy subsidies. Biomass releases more carbon into the air than coal, a fact that most voters will not check. Biomass targets poor rural communities that typically will not fight or fuss about the pollution, classic environmental injustice. Personally, my power bill has not decreased, my taxes have increased, and I have not received a single benefit from this atrocity in my backyard. I will also point out that Georgia Renewable Power is not even based in Georgia, and it appears that their contributions to your campaigns have made them your constituents, not me (a native Georgian, btw).
Last winter, in the height of our fight against the rail ties, I drove to Atlanta to meet with Commissioner McDonald. I will never forget the kindness in his eyes when he looked at me and said, "I work for you." I believed him then, but now I need some convincing. These rogue power companies need to be vetted before they are allowed to start up. They should not be allowed to trash rural Georgia or burn trash (currently called C&D) from the northeast United States. Regulations should be more stringent, community impact studies should be required, and citizens should have a voice. The dream of quiet country living has turned into a nightmare for rural Georgia communities.
I ask the Public Service Commission to serve the public, not industry, and address this problem.
Co-chair, Madison County Clean Power Coalition