As part of its ongoing plan to meet the growing demands for electricity in the region, Southern Company (NYSE: SO) will increase its generating capacity by 6,600 megawatts by 2004. Included in the capacity additions are 4,600 megawatts to serve the competitive wholesale market in the region.
The new plants we are building over the next three years are state of the art in terms of efficiency and environmental controls, said Allen Franklin, president of Southern Company. Our goal is to maintain a strong electricity network to ensure that our four-state region does not experience major interruptions in the supply of electricity in the years ahead.
Franklin said that demand for electricity is expected to grow at about 3 percent a year in the next three years and that peak demand - a one-hour period of maximum demand for electricity during the year - on Southern Companys system is projected to be 34,917 megawatts by 2004 compared to 31,854 megawatts in 2000.
The critical shortages and high cost of electricity in California today clearly show what can happen when generating capacity does not keep pace with economic growth, and when dependence on a single fuel source - primarily natural gas - increases the cost of production, Franklin said. He noted that Southern Company maintains a diverse fuel mix with coal producing 72 percent of the electricity generated in 2000; 15 percent from nuclear; 3 percent from hydroelectric dams and 7 percent from oil and natural gas. Southern Companys installed generating capacity in the Southeast from all sources in 2000 was approximately 32,000 megawatts.
In discussing Southern Companys reserve margins - the amount of generating capacity above what is needed to meet the projected peak demand for energy - Franklin said that, We are targeting reserve margins of 13.5 percent to 15 percent. Our experience shows that this margin is adequate to provide a highly reliable supply of electricity to our customers.
In addition to meeting the demands for electricity, Franklin said the company is also taking steps to reduce its impact on the environment by investing $950 million over the next three years for additional environmental controls, including Selective Catalytic Reductions systems, on several of its plants to reduce Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) emissions.
Forward-looking Statements Note:
Certain information contained in this release is forward-looking information based on current expectations and plans that involve risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking information includes, among other things, statements concerning the scheduled completion and amount of additional generating capacity, the growth in demand for electricity, the ability of Southern Company to meet electricity demand requirements, the targeted reserve margins and the reduction of Southern Companys impact on the environment. Southern Company cautions that there are certain factors that can cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of Southern Company; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such indicated results will be realized.
The following factors, in addition to those discussed in Southern Companys Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 1999, and subsequent securities filings, could cause results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: the impact of recent and future federal and state regulatory change, including legislative and regulatory initiatives regarding deregulation and restructuring of the electric utility industry and also changes in environmental and other laws and regulations to which Southern Company and its subsidiaries are subject, as well as changes in application of existing such laws and regulations; current and future litigation, including the EPA civil action against Alabama Power, Georgia Power and potentially other subsidiaries of Southern Company and the diversity litigation against certain subsidiaries of Southern Company; the effects of increased competition in the markets in which Southern Companys subsidiaries operate; the impact of fluctuations in commodity prices, interest rates and customer demand; internal restructuring or other restructuring options that may be pursued; potential business strategies, including acquisitions or dispositions of assets or businesses, which cannot be assured to be completed or beneficial to Southern Company or its subsidiaries; the effects of, and changes in, economic conditions in the areas in which Southern Companys subsidiaries operate; financial market conditions and the results of financing efforts; the timing and acceptance of Southern Companys new product and service offerings; the ability of Southern Company to obtain additional generating capacity at competitive prices; weather and other natural phenomena; developments in the California power markets affecting Mirant Corporation and certain of its subsidiaries, including, but not limited to, governmental intervention, deterioration in the financial condition of counterparties, default on receivables due, adverse results in current or future litigation and adverse changes in the tariffs of the California Power Exchange Corporation or the California Independent System Operator Corporation; and the ability of Southern Company to obtain a supplemental ruling from the Internal Revenue Service in connection with the spinoff of Mirant Corporation.