ATLANTA -- Southern Company, one of the nations largest producers of energy, released today a comprehensive report on the companys actions on climate change and increasingly stringent requirements related to other emissions from its power plants.
Southern Companys Environmental Assessment: Report to Shareholders includes an analysis of scenarios that might result from possible requirements to address carbon dioxide emissions, as well as discusses their impact on the company and its customers.
The report also explains the companys decision-making process to determine how best to meet existing or new environmental requirements. It outlines the companys planned investment of more than $6 billion over the next decade to further lower emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and mercury. And the report includes an assessment of generation technology options available today and in development for the future. It can be accessed via the companys web site at www.southerncompany.com.
Southern Companys future environmental investments will include the installations of scrubbers for SO2 removal and additional selective catalytic reduction systems (SCRs) for NOx removal. The combination of scrubbers and SCRs also will reduce mercury emissions. In addition, the company will place baghouses which function like large vacuum cleaner bags on various units to further absorb mercury emissions.
The Southeast is a growing, vibrant region that requires our company to provide reliable energy at an affordable cost in an environmentally responsible way, said David Ratcliffe, Southern Company CEO.
The report, completed under the direction of Ratcliffe and the companys Board of Directors, was conducted at the request of a group of shareholders, who asked Southern Company to provide an assessment of how it is responding to rising regulatory, competitive and public pressures to significantly reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions. In order to obtain a range of views and input, a number of independent experts outside the company were interviewed. An ongoing dialogue also was held with representatives of the shareholder proponents. Under a confidentiality agreement, the company provided them with preliminary results and an opportunity to review and comment on the final draft.
I want to thank this group of shareholders for their professionalism in approaching our discussions and for their input and guidance, said Ratcliffe. We were not always in agreement, but the talks were constructive and beneficial in helping us finalize the report. And we look forward to future discussions on critical and challenging issues facing our company and nation.
The report reiterates Southern Companys position that the development and commercialization of new technologies is the appropriate way to deal with the long-term challenge of climate change. It also examines the companys plans to continue voluntary efforts to reduce or avoid emissions of carbon dioxide, while focusing as well on developing near carbon-free electric generation technologies and methods of carbon sequestration. Since the mid-1990s, Southern Company has already avoided or offset more than 93 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.
In partnership with the Orlando Utilities Commission, Southern Company is planning to build an integrated gasification combined cycle plant in Florida, which will demonstrate the cleanest, most efficient coal-fired technology in the world, with 20-25 percent less emissions of carbon dioxide. The company also has signed on to FutureGen, a $1 billion government/industry partnership to design, build and operate a nearly emissions-free, coal-fired electric and hydrogen production plant. In addition, Southern Company participates in NuStart, a consortium of nine nuclear operating companies with the objective of making nuclear power a viable alternative for future generation.
With more than 4 million customers and nearly 39,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier super-regional energy company in the Southeast and a leading U.S. producer of electricity. Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states, a growing competitive generation company, an energy services business and a competitive retail natural gas business, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are 15 percent below the national average. Southern Company has been ranked the nations top energy utility in the American Customer Satisfaction Index four years in a row and in the latest survey tied for the highest score among all service industry companies. Southern Company has more than 500,000 shareholders, making its common stock one of the most widely held in the United States. Visit the Southern Company Web site at www.southerncompany.com.
Forward-Looking Statement Note: Certain of the information 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 regarding future environmental investments, the continuing growth of the Southeast region, the continuing voluntary efforts to reduce or avoid emissions of carbon dioxide and the development of near carbon-free electric generation technologies, the construction of an integrated gasification combined cycle plant, and the participation in the FutureGen partnership and the NuStart consortium. 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 suggested 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, 2004, 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, tax and other laws and regulations to which Southern Company and its subsidiaries are subject, as well as changes in application of existing laws and regulations; current and future litigation, regulatory investigations, proceedings or inquiries, including the pending Environmental Protection Agency civil actions against certain Southern Company subsidiaries; the effects, extent and timing of the entry of additional competition in the markets in which Southern Companys subsidiaries operate; variations in demand for electricity and gas, including those relating to weather, the general economy and population and business growth (and declines); available sources and costs of fuels; ability to control costs; advances in technology; state and federal rate regulations and the impact of pending and future rate cases and negotiations; 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 ability to obtain new short- and long-term contracts with neighboring utilities; the direct or indirect effect on Southern Companys business resulting from terrorist incidents and the threat of terrorist incidents; interest rate fluctuations and financial market conditions and the results of financing efforts, including Southern Companys credit ratings; the ability of Southern Company and its subsidiaries to obtain additional generating capacity at competitive prices; and catastrophic events such as fires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes or other similar occurrences. Southern Company and its subsidiaries expressly disclaim any obligation to update any forward-looking information.
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