Alabama Power moves forward on Birmingham clean air project; Company expects to spend $3 billion through 2012 on technology

Alabama Power is close to completing construction on a major environmental project that will help further improve air quality in the Birmingham area.

“For years we’ve been installing environmental controls and reducing emissions,” Charles McCrary, Alabama Power president and CEO, said today during a media tour of the project at Plant Gorgas in Walker County. “This latest project is just part of our ongoing commitment to cleaner air in Birmingham and across the state.”

At Plant Gorgas, Alabama Power is completing installation of its first “scrubber,” a huge device that will help reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), a contributor to acid rain. The scrubber will also help reduce mercury and fine particles.

The $261 million scrubber at Plant Gorgas took five years to design and construct. It is slated to be operational in early 2008. The scrubber is expected to reduce SO2 emissions from three of the plant’s generating units by 98 percent.

Nearly 400 contract and construction workers have been working on the scrubber. The scrubber vessel, one of the largest in the world based on generation capacity, is 12 stories tall. The scrubber stack, at 755 feet, is about 30 stories taller than Birmingham’s biggest skyscraper.

The Gorgas scrubber is the first of several scrubbers slated to be installed at Alabama Power’s largest coal-fired plants during the next five years. The state-of-the-art scrubbers are designed to meet increasingly stringent government standards for clean air.

Another major environmental project is nearing completion at Alabama Power’s Plant Barry, in Mobile County. There, workers are installing Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology, which will cut emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx), a component of ground-level ozone. The $241 million SCR is also slated to be operational in spring 2008. It will reduce NOx emissions from the plant’s largest generating unit by 80 percent during summer ozone season. SCRs have already been installed at Plant Gorgas, at Plant Miller in Jefferson County, and at Plant Gaston in Shelby County.

In all, between 1998 and 2012, Alabama Power’s spending on environmental improvements is expected to total $3 billion. All the improvements are part of Alabama Power’s ongoing efforts to reduce emissions while continuing to meet the ever-growing demand for energy.

Since 1990, Alabama Power has cut emission rates of NOx and SO2 system-wide by 63 percent and 45 percent respectively. (Emission rates refer to the amount of emissions produced for every megawatt-hour of electricity generated.) Over that same period, Alabama Power has significantly increased generation to meet the state’s need for electricity.

“We’re proud of our record of reducing emissions while generating more power to meet the needs of our customers,” McCrary said. “And we will continue our efforts to further reduce emissions while providing Alabamians with reliable, affordable electricity.”

Alabama Power, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO), provides electricity to more than 1.4 million customers across the state. For more information about Alabama Power’s environmental commitment, log on to