Southern Company announces $100,000 contribution to the Bats for the Future Fund

*

Southern Company announces $100,000 contribution to the Bats for the Future Fund

October 30, 2018

For the second year, Southern Company and subsidiaries are supporting grants totaling $1.1 million to protect threatened bat populations.

Southern Company, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and other funding partners announced more than $1.1 million in grants to combat white-nose syndrome (WNS), a disease caused by a cold-loving fungus threatening vital hibernating bat populations. The four grant recipients were announced at the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center in Birmingham, Ala.

“Southern Company is committed to conserving and protecting at-risk species and their habitats,” said Jason Reynolds, director of environmental affairs at Southern Company. “Initiatives like the Bats for the Future Fund, which support wildlife in the areas we serve and operate, help us make lives better – today and for future generations."

The Bats for the Future Fund is a strategic public-private partnership between Southern Company, NFWF, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Avangrid Foundation to protect bat populations and the many benefits they provide.

The 2018 Bats for the Future Fund grants were awarded to four projects that will test four different environmental treatments, as well as further develop a vaccine to help manage the disease and improve survival and recovery of affected bat populations across North America. The grant slate includes:

  • Understanding the Role of a Virus in the Virulence of the Fungus that Causes White-nose Syndrome in Pennsylvania The Pennsylvania State University will use Pseudogymnoascus destructans partitivirus (PdPV) and virus-free strains of Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), the fungus causing WNS, to assess the role of the virus in virulence of Pd genes and spread of WNS. This project will develop a virus-induced gene silencing system using infectious clones of PdPV to test the role of potential virulence genes of Pd and develop virus-free or altered virus strains as a WNS treatment strategy.
  • Testing Ultraviolet Light and Polyethylene Glycol as a White-Nose Syndrome Management Strategy (AR, AL, Canada) Bat Conservation International will evaluate the efficacy of using two non-toxic agents – ultraviolet light and polyethylene glycol -- to treat mine walls and reduce the prevalence of the fungus that causes WNS on roosting surfaces in bat hibernacula. The project will test the two environmental cleaning agents in three mines along the northern and southern edges of the WNS spread, to test the potential of environmental cleaning as a WNS management strategy.
  • Developing and Testing Delivery Methods for Vaccine Treatments to Reduce White-Nose Syndrome in Bats (CO, MN, TX, WI) The U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center will design and test mass delivery methods for vaccines and other treatment options as a strategy to reduce the occurrence of WNS in bats. The project will develop and test an automatic spray technology device for delivering treatments to bats as they fly into maternity roosts or hibernacula for fall swarm and assess oral consumption of treatment and effectiveness of a topical delivery method through the use of biomarkers.
  • Integrated Disease Management System Approach to Reduce White-Nose Syndrome Mortality in Texas Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will establish an integrated disease management system approach aimed at minimizing WNS mortality amongst tricolored bats in Texas. This project will use multiple mitigation approaches, including high-pressure steam cleaning, application of polyethylene glycol, and volatile organic compound treatments, to reduce WNS-related mortality, and slow the spread of Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the causal agent of WNS.

To learn more about Southern Company’s environmental stewardship commitment, the Bats for the Future Fund and additional conservation program outcomes – including an interactive project map, please visit our new stewardship webpages at: www.southerncompany.com/stewardship.

###

About Southern Company

Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is America's premier energy company, with 46,000 megawatts of generating capacity and 1,500 billion cubic feet of combined natural gas consumption and throughput volume serving 9 million customers through its subsidiaries, as of December 31, 2017. We operate nearly 200,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines and more than 80,000 miles of natural gas pipeline, as of December 31, 2017. The company provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy through electric operating companies in four states, natural gas distribution companies in four states, a competitive generation company serving wholesale customers in 11 states across America and a nationally recognized provider of customized energy solutions, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and affordable prices that are below the national average.

Through an industry-leading commitment to innovation, Southern Company and its subsidiaries are creating new products and services for the benefit of customers. We are building the future of energy by developing the full portfolio of energy resources, including carbon-free nuclear, advanced carbon capture technologies, natural gas, renewables, energy efficiency and storage technology. Southern Company has been named by the U.S. Department of Defense and G.I. Jobs magazine as a top military employer, recognized among the Top 50 Companies for Diversity and the number one Company for Progress by DiversityInc, and designated as one of America's Best Employers by Forbes magazine.