Georgia Power Company

In 1911 several companies including the Georgia Railway and Electric Company, Atlanta Water and Power Company and the Georgia Power Company merged to form Georgia Railway and Power. This was the beginning of what is today the Georgia Power Company, a large electricity provider to more than 2.2 million customers in the state of Georgia. The company is public, investor-owned, and headquartered in Atlanta.

Georgia Power grew from the 1911 merger by leaps and bounds. In 1926 Georgia Railway and Power became part of a holding company and was renamed Georgia Power Company. By the following year the company was operating a total of 17 hydroelectric plants and supplied more than half the state of Georgia with electricity. By the 1950s the lack of suitable development sites for new hydro dams meant that most of the power stations being operated by Georgia Power were now coal-fired. In 1957 the company began operations with the world’s first tubular steel transmission line. Plant Hatch Unit 1 became the company’s first nuclear powered generating station in 1974.

With the merger of Georgia Power and Savannah Electric in 2006 the company now has a huge number of power stations that are fueled by various means. There are 20 hydroelectric power stations, 14 fossil-fueled plants, and two nuclear reactor facilities. The company supplies electricity to 155 of the 159 counties in the state of Georgia. Seven of the facilities are jointly owned, and the modern plants have low emissions and are meeting or exceeding government standards. However, the coal-fired plants, especially those constructed in past decades, have always produced higher than normal emissions. Plant Scherer in Juliette, Georgia, is operated by Georgia Power Company, was completed in 1982, and is ranked among the top 20 carbon dioxide emission sites in the world and is the largest source in the United States.

Asbestos use was very common in coal-fired electric generating stations prior to the 1980s. Many of the power stations operated by Georgia Power Company were fitted with asbestos tiles, fireboards, and cloth wraps for water pipes. Workers who inhaled asbestos fibers were subject to symptoms years or even decades afterward. Asbestos is the leading cause of mesothelioma, other forms of cancer and asbestosis. Most modern facilities do not use asbestos and much of this material has been removed from elderly power stations across the country. Former employees at any one of the older facilities operated by Georgia Power Company may have inhaled asbestos fibers and have yet to show symptoms of illness as a result.