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Plant McDonough's Smokestack Dismantled This Summer

Georgia Power is making the switch to natural gas units, which means the smokestack at Plant McDonough is coming down.

Georgia Power is continuing to make the switch to natural gas units at Plant McDonough Atkinson, which means the days are numbered for the plant’s towering smokestack.

The smokestack has risen high above Smyrna and Vinings since the plant was constructed in the 1960s. Lynn Wallace, a Georgia Power representative, said that for some it has become an Atlanta landmark.   

“They see it and they say, ‘Oh there’s the smokestack. Turn left at the smokestack,’” she said. “It’s a part of history. It’s a part of our company. It’s certainly a landmark and it’s always sad to see those stages move on to the next step, but this is very exciting that we’re bringing on natural gas units.”

Georgia Power brought its second of three natural gas units on-line at Plant McDonough Thursday, April 26. The first unit became operational in December 2011 and the third is expected to come on-line in November 2012. Wallace said these three units will improve air quality and be more cost effective because of the lower cost of natural gas. 

“It’s to help meet expected growth in customer electricity needs and ensure reliability in metro Atlanta and north Georgia,” she said. “That plant is also used to maintain voltage stability on our systems. It’s really the only plant that we have in metro Atlanta, so it really served a very important role for reliability and voltage stability. But we really need it to help meet the demands of our customers in metro Atlanta and north Georgia.”

Combined the three new natural gas units will create 2,500 megawatts of power, enough to power 625,000 homes, compared to the 517 megawatts generated by the coal units. The new natural gas units will also have an impact on Georgia Power customers’ bills.

“The cost to bring these new units on-line is just now hitting customer bills,” Wallace said. “There will be some rate impacts as a result of these units. I believe customers have already begun to pay for the first two units already. Then we’ll be bringing on the third unit, which is the final natural gas unit at Plant McDonough, in November. Then customers will begin paying for that unit, I believe, the following January of ’13.”

But what about Plant McDonough’s smokestack? Wallace said Georgia Power will begin dismantling the smokestack piece by piece this summer.

Do you think the Plant McDonough smokestack is a landmark or an eyesore? Tell us in the comments.

Hope Barrett May 01, 2012 at 12:34 AM
I live right by it and think it is an eyesore. I'm happy to see it come down.
Bill May 01, 2012 at 11:22 AM
That smokestack always reminds me of driving downtown as a kid with my Dad to see Flames games at the Omni. We'd take the "back way" into the city down South Cobb Drive and that smokestack was like a beacon.
C.J. May 01, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Hear, hear!
Michelle May 01, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I'm all for improving our air quality, but why must we dismantle the smokestack if it is no longer in use and clearly is a landmark for people? I say leave it and let's stop burning, tearing down and replacing anything atlanta has as a reminder of its history. Personally, I think all the power lines that run through our city is more of an eyesore than the smokestack. :)
lamar December 25, 2012 at 01:44 AM
I think it's a good landmark for the metro Atlanta area but I stay up the street from it & I think they should keep it & it will be nice for a historic tour & I use to work for ga power but hate to see it go. :(
Lee April 08, 2013 at 01:06 PM
I noticed a difference in it's appearance just the other day and have come to find out about the dismantling today. Unless the land occupied by the smokestack has to be reclaimed or if it's become unstable and/or hazardous I think it should stay as it is. I suppose the general public has no say in the matter though. We'll miss it from our view...
Thomas Francell May 08, 2013 at 07:03 AM
It's about 1/5th it's old height now, so glad to see it go! Btw, the thing was marked as 1605 feet on the Atlanta AirNav map, you can't just leave a hazard that big standing in air space busy as this.
Brandon May 16, 2013 at 12:48 PM
Don't forget, that thing was there before most, if not all, of those neighborhoods. People that didn't want to see it should not have moved there. Go live somewhere out in the woods and generate your own electricity if you don't want to see it. Or, there's always the option of ponying up your own money to repower the plant to natural gas. I don't see too many other options if you want electricity, though.

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