Florida Public Service Commission OKs Southern Company, OUC Generation Plans

Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest energy producers, and the Orlando Public Utilities Commission have received preliminary approval to build a 633-megawatt, natural gas generation facility that officially inaugurates Southern Company’s planned expansion outside its traditional service territory.

The Florida Public Service Commission has signed off on a Certificate of Need filed by Southern Company, OUC and two other partners -- the Kissimmee Utility Authority and Florida Municipal Power Agency. The project now goes to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, then to the Florida governor and cabinet for final approvals.

The four partners had signed a contract earlier that will see Southern Company build a state-of-the-art, combined-cycle generation unit at OUC’s Curtis H. Stanton Energy Center. Construction – pending final approvals -- could begin as soon as this fall, with operation by 2003.

This is Southern Company’s first step in expanding outside its service area. The company has targeted what it calls the “Super Southeast” for expansion, which not only includes the areas it currently services – Alabama, Georgia, northwest Florida and southeastern Mississippi – but also a broader region covering eight to 10 states across the Southeast.

“The South is the single fastest-growing retail and wholesale energy market in the nation,” said Paul Bowers, president of Southern Company Generation and Energy Marketing, which manages and generates electricity for the company and markets energy in the competitive wholesale supply business. “We intend to play a large part in serving that growth by providing energy that is affordable, reliable and cleaner than ever. We look forward to this partnership with OUC, KUA, FMPA and others as we expand our presence across the region.”

The additional generation capacity at Stanton “will meet the future electricity demands of our fast-growing community and maintain the low rates and reliability our customers have come to expect,” said Bob Haven, OUC’s general manager and CEO.

OUC – The Reliable One is the nation’s 16th-largest municipal utility. It provides electric and water services to more than 165,000 customers in Orlando and surrounding areas.

Southern Company currently owns and operates more than 32,000 megawatts of generation in the Southeast U.S., serving nearly 4 million customers, with plans to increase its generating capacity 6,600 megawatts by the end of 2003.

OUC will own nearly a third of the new generation unit’s output. The Kissimmee Utility Authority and Florida Municipal Power Agency will own smaller shares. Southern Company, selected as a project partner from among some of the nation’s largest energy providers, will own the remaining 65 percent. Under an initial 10-year contract, OUC, KUA and FMPA will purchase Southern Company’s entire portion of the generating capacity. Options in the contract could extend it for an additional 20 years.

The new natural gas-fired generators will feature combined-cycle technology that minimizes emissions and generates electricity 30 percent more efficiently than earlier technology.

Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the parent firm of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power, Savannah Electric, Southern Nuclear, Southern Company Energy Solutions, Southern LINC and Southern Telecom. Southern Company brands are synonymous with excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are 15 percent below the national average. With more than 500,000 shareholders, Southern Company common stock is one of the most widely held stocks in the United States.