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Georgia's largest utility looks to natural gas as it says it needs to generate more electricity soon

FILE - Georgia Power Co.'s Plant Bowen releases steam as it generates electricity from burning coal on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Euharlee, Ga.  (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)
Mike Stewart/AP
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AP
FILE - Georgia Power Co.'s Plant Bowen releases steam as it generates electricity from burning coal on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Euharlee, Ga. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

Georgia Power Co. says increased demand for electricity is coming fast, asking regulators on Friday to let it secure more power generation ahead of schedule. But environmentalists are questioning a plan that mostly relies on natural gas to generate new electricity and could keep coal-fired plants running. They say the unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. needs to cut climate-altering carbon dioxide emissions from coal and gas.

The investment could run into the billions of dollars, although the company won't provide an estimate. Georgia Power’s 2.7 million customers wouldn’t fully pay until after 2026 under company's plan proposed to the Georgia Public Service Commission. The five-member elected commission must approve spending.