Southern Company responds to EPA lawsuit

There is "no basis" for the Environmental Protection Agency`s Nov. 3 claim that Southern Company, one of seven utilities sued by the government, created new sources of air pollution while maintaining power plants.

We know people have questions about our impact on the environment. That’s why, since 1990 alone, we have eliminated 20 percent of total emissions of nitrogen oxides and 30 percent of total sulfur dioxide emissions. We were able to accomplish this by installing low-NOx systems on 30 power plant units across our service territory in the Southeast U.S. and switching to cleaner-burning fuel.

By 2003, we will have further reduced NOx emissions at several of our plants -- as much as 65 percent in some cases. As a global energy company, Southern Company’s efforts in reducing emissions go beyond our initiatives in the Southeast. In Northern Virginia, New England, Germany and the Philippines, we’ve either taken steps or are in the process of installing systems that produce energy more cleanly and more efficiently than ever before.

Everyone deserves a cleaner environment. That’s why, on average, every kilowatt-hour we generate is cleaner than the year before. In this decade, Southern Company has invested more than $4 billion in environmental programs and research, as well as in reducing emissions.

We also are actively pursuing renewable energy sources in supporting biomass and solar research. And, in the drive to make electric vehicles a viable transportation alternative, we provide resources to the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium, a research group that is targeting the development of enhanced battery technology for emission-free EVs.

We are disappointed with EPA’s actions and we are confident there is no basis for this action. Southern Company has an obligation to repair and maintain equipment at our generating facilities so that we can continue to provide reliable energy to our customers.

We have been working closely with EPA over the past 18 months, providing more than 120,000 pages of documentation. We have been in constant contact to answer questions in an effort to be up front and open. Our goal throughout this process has been to cooperate with EPA and find a workable solution to this issue.

We will continue to do those things that show our commitment to the environment. We will meet our goal of planting 30 million trees in the South by the end of next year. We will continue our efforts with electric vehicles – maintaining the largest fleet in the U.S. -- and pursuing technologies that generate electricity cleaner. We will continue to support efforts that educate our youth on how to be stewards of the environment. And we will continue daily to put more than 400 people -- and the resources -- into protecting and improving the environment.