Alabama Power nears completion of major clean air initiative
$1.7 billion invested to protect air quality, create jobs


Alabama Power is close to completing a six-year, $1.7 billion clean-air initiative designed to further protect air quality in Alabama.


The initiative, launched in 2005, involved the design and installation of seven enormous “scrubbers” at the company’s largest coal-fired generating units. Six scrubbers are now operating at four Alabama Power plants in Jefferson, Shelby, Walker and Mobile counties. The seventh scrubber, also in Jefferson County, will come on line next year.


Scrubbers, which cost more than $200 million each, are state-of-the-art environmental technology that reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and help prevent the formation of fine particle pollution in the atmosphere. Combined with other technologies already installed at Alabama Power plants, the scrubbers will also help reduce mercury emissions. By next year, two-thirds of Alabama Power’s coal-fired generating fleet will be equipped with this clean-air technology.


In all, the seven scrubbers are expected to cut SO2 emissions by more than 200,000 tons per year. Once the final scrubber begins operating, the company expects to report a two-thirds cut in SO2 emissions since 1997, thanks to the new technology.


“We are always looking for ways to meet customer demand for reliable power while reducing our emissions,” said Charles McCrary, Alabama Power president and CEO. “Our investment in scrubbers means we can continue to serve our customers while doing our part to improve air quality.”


Alabama Power has also completed a wave of construction to install massive, selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology at its plants in Jefferson, Shelby, Walker and Mobile counties. SCRs help reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), a component of ground-level ozone. Over the past 12 years, the company has reduced its NOx emissions by more than 75 percent.


Alabama Power has a strong record of environmental compliance and has always met or done better than the government standards designed to protect public health. The installation of environmental technologies at Alabama Power plants over the past decade are part of a broader, ongoing community-wide effort to further improve air quality in Birmingham, Mobile and across the state. These efforts are paying off. Last year, for example, fine particle monitors operated by government agencies across Alabama posted their best numbers since installation of the monitors in 1999. State regulators, meanwhile, have said air quality is better now in Birmingham than at any time in the past 75 years.


The company’s investment in clean-air technologies has also helped provide an economic boost to the Birmingham and Mobile regions. During peak construction,   Alabama Power’s $1.7 billion scrubber initiative was responsible for creating more than 2,300 jobs.   


“This investment is not only good for the environment, it’s also good for Alabama’s economy,” McCrary said.  


Alabama Power has more than 100 professionals working full-time on environmental issues – from ensuring the company complies with all environmental rules, to finding ways to improve environmental performance. The work includes researching new, alternative and renewable sources of generating power that work in our region, as well as helping customers use energy more efficiently.


The installation of cutting-edge environmental technologies at Alabama Power coal-fired plants means the company can continue to operate these reliable, low-cost facilities for years to come, while at the same time working to further improve air quality. Over the long run, these improvements mean greater protection for the environment, and savings for Alabama Power customers.      


Alabama Power, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO), provides electricity to more than 1.4 million customers across the state.


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NOTE TO EDITORS, PRODUCERS: B-roll of the scrubber construction at Plant Miller is available to print and broadcast media. Please call the Alabama Power Media Inquiry Line at 205-257-4155 to request a copy. 


New Media Contact:  Michael Sznajderman, 205-257-4155