Southern Company's operating subsidiaries may self-build renewable generation and/or enter into power purchase agreements for energy and environmental attributes from generating facilities fueled by renewable resources. Southern Company's operating utilities retain the right to use the energy delivered as renewable energy for customers and retire the environmental attributes, as well as the right to sell the energy and the environmental attributes, separately or bundled together, to third parties at their sole discretion.
In 2012, wholesale subsidiary Southern Power began commercial operation of the Nacogdoches Generating Facility in Sacul, Texas. The 100-megawatt plant — one of the largest wood-fired biomass plants in the U.S. — serves the city of Austin.
Southern Company operating utilities are evaluating opportunities to convert existing fossil units to biomass. Decisions on individual projects 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 the acquisition 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., the 2.5-MW Granville Solar Facility in Granville County, N.C., and the 20-MW Adobe Solar Facility in Kern County, CA.
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 Power and Georgia Power, in collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), are conducting an 18-month study to evaluate how solar PV power systems may affect the utility's distribution system.
Georgia Power has also received regulatory approval for their Advanced Solar Initiative (GPASI) on Nov. 20, 2012. This initiative creates the largest volunteer, solar portfolio from an investor-owned utility. Through GPASI, Georgia Power plans to acquire 210 megawatts (MW) of additional solar energy through long-term contracts with utility-scale and distributed generation-scale projects. As part of Georgia Power's 2013 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the Commission added another 525 MW to follow the same protocol as GPASI. All approved projects are expected to come on-line between now and 2016.
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, that 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 two 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 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.
Georgia Power has requested regulatory approval of two 20-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) for 250 MW of wind resources from Blue Canyon II and Blue Canyon IV wind farms in Oklahoma. These two wind PPAs represent an additional opportunity to diversify the company's generation portfolio and add renewable resources that have energy and capacity benefits, at a price below the avoided energy cost projections contained within Georgia Power's 2013 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).
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 seventh in the nation for hydroelectric power generation, with a combined generating capacity of 2,825 MW. 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.