Alabama Power Outlines $500 Million Initiative To Help Address Ground-Level Ozone

Alabama Power today unveiled more than $60 million in newly installed, environmental technology at Plant Gorgas in southern Walker County -- improvements designed to significantly reduce the plant's emissions of nitrogen oxide, a component of ground-level ozone.

The technology, which is now operating -- in time for this summer's ozone season -- represents the completion of the first phase of a $500 million, multiyear initiative to install NOx-reduction technology at Alabama Power plants. The second phase is already under construction at Plant Miller in Jefferson County, with completion expected in less than a year. The third phase, also at Miller, is expected to be completed in spring 2005 with additional improvements scheduled for Plant Barry in Mobile County in 2006. Environmental improvements also are being made at other Alabama Power generating units.

The just-completed improvements at Gorgas are expected to reduce NOx emissions from the plant this summer by more than 40 percent compared to last year's ozone season. Since 1990, Alabama Power has cut its statewide NOx emissions rate -- the emissions the company produces for each megawatt-hour of electricity it generates -- by 44 percent. During the same 12-year period, Alabama Power boosted generation by 60 percent to meet public demand.

"The new technology at Gorgas is just one example of how we're working aggressively to reduce our impact on the environment. And our emission figures show it," said Charles McCrary, Alabama Power president and CEO. "But this is only the beginning. From now until 2010, we expect to spend $1.5 billion on environmental upgrades to meet future air standards."

McCrary noted that the improvements at Gorgas were completed a full year before they were required. "We're not only meeting the requirements. We're doing better than required," McCrary said.

The just-installed NOx-reduction equipment at Gorgas is known as Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology. SCRs act like giant catalytic converters, transforming NOx into harmless nitrogen and water.

The SCR and its steel support structure at Gorgas are 14 stories tall and half a football field long. The project took three years and $62 million to design and build. In comparison, that's $12 million more than One Federal Place and more than twice the cost of the Concord Center, downtown Birmingham's newest office towers. Each of the two SCR projects at Plant Miller involves a similar commitment of time, labor and financial resources.

"By the time we complete our 2010 expenditures, we will have almost as much invested in environmental control equipment as we do in the plants themselves," McCrary said.

"We understand our responsibility to help protect and improve air quality, and we are doing something about it," McCrary added. Since 1996, Alabama Power has cut NOx emissions -- that's actual emissions, not emission rates -- by 25 percent while boosting electricity production by 13 percent.

Automobiles, emissions from commercial and industrial facilities, and fumes from gas pumps are among the other sources that contribute to ground- level ozone. Clean air advocates agree that addressing those emissions, improving automobile fuel efficiency and expanding public transportation must be part of the effort to reduce ozone.

"We welcome these improvements by Alabama Power to reduce emissions, but ozone is a community-wide issue that requires community-wide solutions," said Danny Patterson of the group Alabama Partners for Clean Air. The group has been working to encourage carpooling and other initiatives to help reduce air pollution.

"We're committed to doing our part to help Alabama communities improve air quality," McCrary added. "At the same time, we will continue to meet Alabama's growing need for safe, reliable, affordable electricity."

Alabama Power, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company , provides electricity to more than 1.3 million customers across the state.


SOURCE: Alabama Power Company

CONTACT: Michael Sznajderman of Alabama Power, +1-205-257-4155, or