Southern Company signs Climate Challenge

The Southern Company and The Department of Energy today entered a partnership to reduce the growth of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.

In a ceremony in Washington, D.C., the company signed The Climate Challenge, part of the Clinton administration’s overall Climate Change Action Plan. The plan — called for in the international climate change treaty signed during the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — is aimed at reducing U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases by the year 2000.

“The Climate Challenge demonstrates that creative partnerships between government and industry can be used to effectively address environmental issues,” said Southern Company President A.W. Dahlberg, who signed the initiative. “This historic agreement builds on America’s leadership role in energy efficiency and environmental protection.”

The Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the parent firm of five electric utilities in the Southeast: Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power, and Savannah Electric. Together, these companies make up one of the largest investor-owned electric utility systems in the United States.

Included in the Climate Challenge program are more than $1 billion of on-going business initiatives by utilities nationwide. Those initiatives range from improving the efficiency of power plants to installing energy-saving lights at company facilities.

The programs will reduce the growth of carbon dioxide by more than 10 million tons by the year 2000. Other major programs include:

Transportation. Between now and 2000, The Southern Company plans to spend some $63 million to purchase electric vehicles, including 1,400 electric vehicles for The Southern Company’s operating subsidiaries.

Forestry. Starting this year, The Southern Company will spend $4.5 million on a forestry management program designed to capture carbon from the atmosphere. In this program, trees will be planted on existing company land and non-company land in the Southeast.

Energy Management. The company will promote new energy efficient homes, energy efficiency kits for low-income housing, technical assistance to businesses, and special pricing incentives to reduce energy consumption during periods of peak demand.

Biomass and Solar Energy. The Southern Company will continue to burn more than 1,000 tons of wood waste each month to displace coal. In addition, the company will continue to implement programs to enhance the development and performance of solar energy. Included is the participation by Georgia Power in the installation of a $1.8 million photovoltaic roof at the Aquatic Center at The Georgia Institute of Technology for the 1996 Olympic Games.

The Southern Company will also participate in several nationwide electric utility initiatives, including ground source heat pump promotions, an investment pool for electric and renewable energy, and broader forest management and electric vehicle programs.

“The Climate Challenge program represents an innovative attempt to build government-industry partnerships to meet environmental challenges instead of relying on government mandates, bureaucratic regulation, or new taxes,” Dahlberg said.