Customers left with cleaning costs after Ga. Supreme Court declines coal ash case

The Georgia Power headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Georgia Supreme Court on Thursday declined to consider a case over the cost of cleaning up toxic coal ash from Georgia Power’s plants. The decision means ordinary Georgians will likely foot the bill.

Coal ash is a toxic byproduct of burning coal for electricity – and decades of storing it in open pits at coal plants means it’sin contact with groundwater. Cleaning it up is an expensive, ongoing process.

In 2019, the state Public Service Commission said Georgia Power could collect more than $7 billion from customers to pay for the cleanup.

The Sierra Club appealed that decision, arguing that the utility created the coal ash problem and should therefore pay for it.

The state Supreme Court has now declined to hear the case, meaning the decision to pass the cost on to customers stands.

In a new rate request filed this year, the company estimated the coal ash cleanup cost to rise to nearly $9 billion.

The environmental group said it would continue to push for all coal ash in Georgia to be stored safely. The commission declined to comment on the court’s decision.