Georgia Power takes a bold step to protect the Chattahoochee River

Bill Dahlberg, Chairman and CEO of Southern Company, demonstrated his company’s commitment to environmental stewardship by announcing today that its subsidiary - Georgia Power - will construct 100 percent cooling towers on plants McDonough and Yates on the Chattahoochee River. Dahlberg made the announcement while chairing a meeting of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Regional Business Coalition’s Clean Water Initiative.

“We are going to build the cooling towers because it is the right thing to do for our region, it is the right thing to do for the river and ultimately it will be the right thing to do for our business,” Dahlberg said. “However, this is just the first step in solving the problem. We now need our local, county, state and private officials to support a regional solution to protect the future of this very valuable river.”

The cooling towers at the two plants will cost Georgia Power approximately $125 million and plans are to have the units on both plants completed in the next eight years, in compliance with Environmental Protection Division permits. The towers will help to enrich the river’s habitat by improving the dissolved oxygen levels in the river and by allowing the river to better assimilate the treated waste water that is returned to the river from sewage treatment plants.

Additionally, the towers will help the company provide low-cost reliable power to customers by ensuring that its plants can run at full capacity. This summer, Plant Yates has limited its output at times because of the high thermal conditions of the Chattahoochee. Cooling towers at that location will eliminate the plants thermal restrictions.

Without the cooling towers, the Chattahoochee’s ability to handle future waste water needs would be limited, which in turn would negatively impact the economic growth of the region.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, the nation’s largest generator of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility, serving customers in 57,000 of the state’s 59,000 square miles. Georgia Power’s rates are more than 15 percent below the national average and its 1.8 million customers are in all but six of Georgia’s 159 counties.