Southern Nuclear, headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., is a leader among the nation's nuclear energy facility operators and an innovator in advanced nuclear technologies. The company operates a total of six units for Alabama Power and Georgia Power at the Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant near Dothan, Ala.; the Edwin I. Hatch Nuclear Plant near Baxley, Ga., and the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant near Waynesboro, Ga. Southern Nuclear is the licensee of two new nuclear units currently under construction at Plant Vogtle, which are among the first nuclear units being constructed in the United States in more than 30 years.
For more than 40 years, Southern Nuclear has operated its three nuclear energy facilities at the highest levels of reliability, with a current average three-year fleet capacity factor of 93.2 percent, exceeding the U.S. average of 91.2 percent for the years 2013-2015.
Southern Nuclear has received numerous accolades in 2016 for leadership in the advancement of nuclear energy including the Special Achievement Award by the United States Nuclear Infrastructure Council and the Presidential Citation by the American Nuclear Society. Southern Nuclear also received two of the Nuclear Energy Institute's Top Innovative Practice awards and a special recognition for achieving excellence in research and performance. Plant Hatch received the ANS Operations & Power Division's Utility Achievement Award for plant improvements that resulted in a record-setting refueling outage duration.
We strive to be an asset in our communities.
At Plant Farley, our employees volunteer and contribute financially to charities, schools and organizations that help those in need. We conduct an annual fundraising campaign for the Wiregrass United Way and participate in projects such as Habitat for Humanity, March of Dimes Walk America, Make-A-Wish volunteer and wish granting, and the Renew Our Rivers campaign.
At Plant Hatch, our employees demonstrate their commitment to community service through their participation in diverse projects including educational outreach programs, local elementary school mentoring groups, quarterly American Red Cross blood drives and United Way of Appling and Toombs/Montgomery County. The Hatch Santa Bag Fund purchased toys for nearly 250 children in the community.
At Plant Vogtle, employees spent 8,500 hours in 2015 on volunteer projects in the community. Among many projects, our volunteers worked on home improvements for residents and raised more than $100,000 for Wimberly House in Waynesboro and Safe Homes in Augusta.
We support local and state economies.
Did you know that the average nuclear plant spends approximately $40 million annually in wages? In Alabama, more than $158 million of materials, services and fuel are purchased annually from more than 190 local companies. In Georgia, more than $908 million of materials, services and fuel are purchased annually from more than 1,000 local companies. The average nuclear plant pays approximately $16 million in state and local taxes. Georgia's nuclear plants pay approximately $60 million in state and local taxes.
We protect the environment.
Nuclear energy produces more clean-air energy than any other energy source and counts for 62 percent of all U.S. emission-free electricity. It provides 76 percent of Alabama's emission-free electricity and 91 percent of Georgia's. More than 33 million metric tons of carbon dioxide are prevented by Alabama's nuclear facilities and more than 23 million metric tons of carbon dioxide are prevented by Georgia's facilities. This is equal to what would be released by more than 6.4 million passenger cars in Alabama and more than 4.4 million passenger cars in Georgia. That's more than all the cars registered in each of the states.
We care about safety.
Nuclear facilities are held to the highest standards by the federal government and its inspectors. We have built-in and portable safety systems to protect the plant against extreme or unexpected events. We also can access backup equipment from an offsite emergency response center. In addition, we have comprehensive plans with local, state and federal agencies to protect the health and safety of the public in the event of an emergency.
We are the most reliable.
Nearly 100 nuclear facilities in the U.S. provide about 20 percent of all electricity in the country. These facilities generate electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Efficiency is the core.
One uranium fuel pellet is about the size of a fingertip and creates as much energy as one ton of coal or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas. A typical large nuclear energy facility produces enough electricity for nearly 723,000 homes while using only 20 metric tons of uranium fuel each year.