Dahlberg says CEP wrong

The Council on Economic Priorities was wrong when it criticized The Southern Company’s environmental performance, Southern Company Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer A.W. Dahlberg said today.

“We appreciate what the CEP is trying to do to protect the environment. But the CEP is mistaken about our environmental record,” Dahlberg said. “We’re enormously proud of our long-standing commitment to the environment.”

Southern Company executives explained their policies and programs to the CEP this past summer. They hope to continue their dialogue with the CEP, Dahlberg said.

The CEP recommendations, and their problems:

· Develop demand-side management programs that will offset more than the 20 percent projected increase in demand currently estimated. Specify goals and timetables, either system-wide or for each subsidiary utility. The Southern Company already has numerous demand-side management and load management programs in place — at least 17 types were described for CEP judges during the summer meeting. The CEP recommendation assumes The Southern Company somehow directly controls demand for electricity. While the company tries to encourage demand-side management through its programs, it can’t control demand. The only direct control the company could have on demand would be through higher prices, which would raise costs for customers, leading to negative effects on what is now a strong economy in the Southeast. What the company can control and has controlled through greater efficiency is pounds of emissions per megawatt-hour.

· Acknowledge the mounting evidence of global warming by implementing a comprehensive long-term plan to minimize The Southern Company’s contribution to this problem. Decrease the company’s projected 20 percent increase in carbon dioxide emissions through the year 2000. The company already has implemented a comprehensive long-term plan, and told the CEP about it. The company in February 1995 joined the Climate Challenge, a voluntary Clinton administration initiative to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in an economically reasonable manner. The CEP’s recommendation implies a call for more drastic action, which would require expensive control measures that would increase customer costs.

· Increase use of zero-emission renewable resources, measurable in megawatts, through your own projects or purchasing agreements with other sources. The company wants to increase its use of zero-emission renewable resources, and is researching how to make such resources economically feasible. In July, the company announced it is researching the use of flywheels as “mechanical batteries,” a development that would help make renewable resources more useful. (Flywheels would help smooth the peaks and valleys in electricity production typically seen in solar or wind generation.) A Georgia Power solar research center set a record for commercial-scale conversion of sunlight to electricity one year ago. Solar research funded by The Southern Company continues. The company is implementing solar technology through the funding of a photovoltaic roof at the newly built Olympic aquatic center on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Hydropower has been implemented to maximum use in the company’s service territory.

· Develop and implement a Clean Air Act Compliance Plan for sulfur dioxide that reduces emissions to required Phase II levels within or near the scheduled time frame, without relying on extensive use of emission credits. The company has such a program, which has the company currently in compliance and projected to remain in compliance. The company does plan to use some emission credits during Phase II of the act, most of which were generated by the company itself during Phase I. In other words, The Southern Company has been complying with the Clean Air Act faster than required. It is unclear to The Southern Company why the CEP doesn’t like the use of emission credits. The market-based solution has proven highly effective, saved taxpayers and customers millions of dollars, and was developed by legislators with help from the Environmental Defense Fund.