Building Renewable Resources
In 2012, wholesale subsidiary Southern Power began commercial operation of the Nacogdoches Generating Facility in Sacul, Texas. The 100-megawatt plant — the largest wood-fired biomass plant in the U.S. — serves the city of Austin.
Southern Company operating subsidiaries are evaluating opportunities to convert existing fossil units to biomass over the next decade. Decisions on individual projects will depend on costs, regulatory/legislative requirements, biomass fuel availability and other site-specific factors.
Southern Company is conducting research at multiple locations into co-firing coal with wood chips, wood pellets, sawdust, urban wood waste, peanut hulls, switchgrass and other biomass to determine the costs and impacts of the process.
Subsidiary Alabama Power has been co-firing biomass as part of normal operations at its Plant Gadsden for nine years, this includes both wood fuels and energy grasses such as Switchgrass and Miscanthus.
Partnerships with Resolute Forest Products and Westervelt Renewable Energy will provide 22.5 MW of renewable energy from wood byproducts that Alabama Power will use to further diversify its mix of electricity fuel sources.
Georgia Power has partnerships with DeKalb County and Waste Management for 9.6 MW of landfill gas to energy projects, as well as 50 MW of biomass energy with Yellow Pine Energy Company.
Southern Company subsidiary, Southern Power, partnered with Turner Renewable Energy in 2013 to announce construction of the Campo Verde Solar Facility, a 139-MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Imperial County, California. The partnership also owns the 30-MW Cimarron Solar Facility near Raton, N.M., the 20-MW Apex Solar Facility and the 30-MW Spectrum Solar Facility, both of which are located in Clark County, Nev., and the 2.5-MW Granville Solar Facility in Granville County, N.C.
Alabama Power and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) are conducting a demonstration of four different solar PV technologies with microinverters at the Alabama Power headquarters and a demonstration of seven different solar PV technologies in Mobile.
Both Alabama and Georgia Power in collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) are conducting an 18-month study to evaluate how solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems may affect the utility's distribution system.
Georgia Power is conducting a demonstration of seven different solar PV technologies at its headquarters building. Additionally, in December 2011, Georgia Power signed long-term power purchase agreements that will add 50 MW of solar to its renewable portfolio. These solar resources will go on-line in 2015.
Georgia Power has also received regulatory approval to build a 1-MW portfolio of medium-scale solar demonstration projects across the state, and has more than doubled the amount of energy purchased from customers and suppliers utilizing solar generation.
Southern Company and Georgia Tech partnered on an extensive study of offshore wind worldwide during 2009 and 2010. Following this study, Southern Company and Georgia Power, submitted a joint application in April 2011 to the Department of the Interior to deploy a site specific wind data collection configuration off the coast of Tybee Island, Georgia.
In May 2012, after continuing offshore data collection technology research, an alternative to the traditional meteorological tower deployment, a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) data collection configuration, was filed to supplement the 2011 Application. LIDAR is a buoy configuration which can be moved from one site to another, with a potentially smaller environmental footprint, which could be used to collect offshore wind data throughout the Southern Company coastal footprint. A National Environmental Policy Act regulatory review would be required prior to use of this technology. Strategic core business decisions will determine our steps forward with regard to offshore wind data collection.
Santa Rosa County, FL, asked Gulf Power to help assess the wind resource at Navarre Beach. A 60 meter meteorological tower was installed and data was collected for 2 years. The results of this project generally show a wind resource that falls in a class typically considered too low, based on current technology and economics.
A similar measurement campaign is starting in starting in Gulfport, MS, with Mississippi Power and one of their customers, to further understand the wind resource in our territory.
Georgia Power is purchasing the energy output sourced from 250 MW of wind, and Alabama Power is purchasing the energy output sourced from 404 MW of wind.
Green Energy/Landfill Gas
Subsidiary Gulf Power owns and operates a 3,200-kilowatt landfill gas-to-electricity plant in Escambia County, Florida, that produces enough power to serve 900 homes.
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.
Georgia Power has received regulatory approval to nearly double to 5.4 MW the amount of solar energy it purchases to supply its Green Energy Program.
Southern Company is ranked 7th in the nation for hydroelectric power generation, with a combined generating capacity of 2,758 MW. Sixteen MW of new hydro capacity planned for the next five years, and other incremental opportunities are being evaluated.