Southern Company's operating subsidiaries continue to expand their utilization of generation facilities that rely on renewable resources to produce electricity, including those based on solar, wind, biomass and other renewable platforms described in this section. Since 2012, Southern Company has added or announced more than 3,600 megawatts of renewable generation.
Southern Company subsidiaries may self-build renewable generation facilities and/or enter into power purchase agreements for energy and environmental attributes from facilities fueled by renewable resources. They may retain the right to use the generated energy as renewable energy for customers and retire the environmental attributes. At their sole discretion, they may also choose to sell the energy and the associated environmental attributes — separately or bundled together — to third parties.
As of Nov. 30, 2015 Southern Power currently owns more than 1,150 MW of solar generating capacity at 20 facilities operating or under construction in California, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico and North Carolina. The company owns eight solar projects in partnership with Turner Renewable Energy, two solar projects in partnership with Recurrent Energy and four solar projects in partnership with First Solar. Southern Power has also announced plans to develop six wholly-owned facilities in Georgia.
Georgia Power is a national leader in solar energy. In 2012, Georgia Power received regulatory approval for its Advanced Solar Initiative (GPASI), the largest voluntary solar program of any investor-owned utility in the United States. The program calls for 210 megawatts of solar generation capacity through long-term contracts with utility-scale and distributed generation-scale projects. As part of Georgia Power's 2013 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the Georgia Public Service Commission added another 525 megawatts to follow a similar protocol as GPASI. All approved projects are expected to come on-line by the end of 2016. Learn more. In addition, Georgia Power began offering rooftop solar to customers in July of 2015.
In March of 2015, subsidiary Southern Power announced its intention to acquire the company's first wind facility - the 299-megawatt Kay Wind project in Oklahoma - upon successful completion. Subsequently, Southern Power announced the acquisition of its second wind facility - the 150-megawatt Grant Wind facility, also in Oklahoma - upon successful completion in March 2016.
Alabama Power is currently purchasing the energy output sourced from 404 megawatts of wind generation facilities.
Georgia Power has received approval from the Georgia Public Service Commission to purchase the energy output sourced from 250 megawatts of wind generation facilities starting in 2016.
Gulf Power has received approval from the Florida Public Service Commission to purchase the energy output sourced from 160 megawatts of wind generation facilities starting in 2016.
Southern Company has also conducted extensive studies of offshore wind in Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and other locations worldwide in an effort to evaluate the potential for wind generation.
Subsidiary Southern Power began commercial operation of the Nacogdoches Generating Facility in Sacul, Texas, in 2012. The 115-megawatt plant - one of the largest wood-fired biomass plants in the U.S. - serves the city of Austin.
Alabama Power partnerships with Resolute Forest Products and Westervelt Renewable Energy are providing 22.5 megawatts of renewable generation capacity from wood byproducts that will further diversify its mix of fuel sources.
Green Energy/Landfill Gas
Southern Company subsidiaries, both individually and in partnerships, are offering customers a growing amount of renewable energy options, which may be purchased in "blocks" of green energy from qualified sources.
Gulf Power owns and operates a 3,200-kilowatt landfill gas-to-electricity plant in Escambia County, Florida, that produces enough electricity to serve 900 homes.
Georgia Power has partnerships with DeKalb County and Waste Management, Inc. for 9.6 megawatts of landfill gas-to-energy projects. In addition, Georgia Power has received regulatory approval to nearly double to 5.4 megawatts the amount of solar energy it purchases to supply its Green Energy Program.
Southern Company is ranked seventh in the nation for hydroelectric power generation, with a combined generating capacity of 2,825 megawatts. Turbine retrofit projects at several hydro facilities have increased hydro capacity by over 5 percent. Also, state-of-the-art gate systems are being installed at many plants to help protect the habitat of marine animals, improve efficiency and create more stable pond-level control.
Gulf Power has an energy conservation initiative called EarthCents—a comprehensive menu of programs and educational efforts to reduce residential and commercial electricity purchases.
EarthCents offers numerous energy-saving programs, including a solar thermal water heating program that includes incentives above and beyond those gained through energy savings from using the solar water heater.