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New coal power plant approved for Washington County

ATLANTA -- Georgia has approved a new coal-burning power plant for Washington County, a project that developers say is needed to meet growing demand but that environmentalists want stopped.

Regulators at the state's Environmental Protection Division issued final permits Thursday for Plant Washington, which would be built in Sandersville.

The plant's backers say it would produce enough electricity to power more than 500,000 homes annually. Georgia now has 10 coal-fired power plants.

Dean Alford, president and CEO of Allied Energy Services, said his firm wants to build the plant because it expects electricity needs will grow in the coming years.

Critics, including Georgians For Smart Energy, say the state should focus on conserving energy and developing renewable power instead of building new coal plants.