Southern Company is the only U.S. energy company developing and innovating around the full portfolio.
Today, the Southern Company system generates approximately 27 percent of its electric power from coal and 47 percent from natural gas, 15 percent from nuclear and 11 percent from renewables; as compared to 2005 when the system generated about 71 percent of its electricity from coal and 11 percent from natural gas.
Growing portfolio of carbon-free and carbon neutral energy sources
Over the last decade, we have significantly transformed our electricity generation mix. Since 2010, we have invested $20 billion in developing low-carbon and carbon-free resources, and we have added more than 5,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable generating capacity through our subsidiaries. We expect to add an additional 3,000 MW of renewable generating capacity by 2023.
Our subsidiaries are focused on strategically increasing the role of renewables in our energy mix. We have numerous R&D projects underway to determine the potential of emerging cost-effective renewable resources and technologies.
The Southern Company system is one of the largest owners of solar PV facilities in the U.S., generating electricity that can be used to serve customers or sold to third parties, with or without the associated renewable energy credits (RECs).
Southern Power owns more than 1,700 megawatts of solar generating capacity at 27 facilities operating or under construction in California, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Texas. Nineteen of these facilities are co-owned by third parties, with Southern Power having the majority ownership.
The Southern Company system also serves as the only energy company in the nation to partner with the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force to develop innovative renewable energy generation projects on 19 military bases, the largest number of military base projects of any energy company in the country. Through March 2017, Southern Company and its subsidiaries Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Mississippi Power have military solar projects online or under contract totaling 365 megawatts. The partnership with the Department of Defense not only helps meet the military’s goals to support the development of new renewable generation resources nation-wide, but also provides value customers across the Southern Company system by allowing the operating companies to serve their customers with the solar energy generated or to sell the energy or associated RECs, either together or separately, to third parties for the benefit of customers.
Southern Power owns more than 1,590 megawatts of wind generating capacity at nine facilities operating or under development in Maine, Oklahoma and Texas. In January, the company announced its fifth wind facility in Texas, the 148 megawatt Cactus Flats Wind Facility.
Alabama Power, Georgia Power and Gulf Power have purchased, or plan to buy more than 900 megawatts of wind generation from Oklahoma and Kansas. The companies receive all the renewable energy credits from these projects, which they may use to serve customers with wind energy or sell to third parties for the benefit of customers.
Southern Company has also conducted studies of offshore wind to evaluate the potential for wind generation in the Southeast.
Southern Company currently has over 300 megawatts of biomass resources.
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.
Partnerships with Resolute Forest Products and Westervelt Renewable Energy have provided Alabama Power with 22.5 megawatts of renewable generation capacity from wood byproducts. Alabama Power can sell the renewable energy credits from these facilities to third parties for the benefit of customers.
Georgia Power, through Georgia Power’s Qualifying Facility Proxy methodology Program, has 180 megawatts of biomass online and serving customers.
The Southern Company system portfolio currently has over 20 megawatts of landfill gas resources.
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 contracts with landfill gas projects totaling over 20 megawatts.
Since its earliest years, the Southern Company system has relied on hydro power to serve customers and communities with one of the cleanest, environmentally safe and affordable sources of renewable energy.
Hydro is the lowest-cost energy source available on the system, in that the “fuel” (water) is free and produces zero emissions. Plus, harnessing the power of falling water is a self-reliant process, not dependent upon other systems or fuel infrastructure.
With 33 hydro generating facilities and a combined nameplate generating capacity of approximately 2,800 megawatts, the system has ranked as high as seventh in the nation for hydro generation.
Nuclear energy, which currently accounts for about 20 percent of the U.S. energy mix, must continue to be a part of the full portfolio of energy resources.
Nuclear energy is emission-free, safe and increases America’s fuel diversity using a low-cost, reliable, 24/7, abundant resource.
In 2016, nuclear power supplied about 16 percent of the Southern Company system’s electricity generation from three plants: Vogtle and Hatch in Georgia and Farley in Alabama. Southern Company is committed to the safe operation of its nuclear energy facilities with equipment and systems that meet rigorous Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety and design regulations.
Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4
Nuclear energy is a viable way to meet anticipated new demand for electricity with the added benefit of no greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide. Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power is currently proposing development of two new nuclear units at Plant Vogtle in Burke County, Georgia. Vogtle units 3 and 4 are on track to be the first new-generation nuclear facility in the nation in 30 years and the first to use the Westinghouse AP1000 advanced pressurized water reactor technology.
This technology allows nuclear cores to be cooled even in the absence of operator interventions or mechanical assistance. We believe the AP1000 to be the safest and most economical nuclear power plant available in the worldwide commercial marketplace.
Unit 3 is scheduled to be completed in 2021 and Unit 4 is expected to be completed in 2022. Southern Nuclear, which currently operates Plant Vogtle's existing nuclear units as well as those at Georgia Power's Plant Hatch and Alabama Power's Plant Farley, will oversee operations of the new units once they are completed.
Upon completion, Georgia Power will own 45.7 percent of the two new 1,100 megawatt reactors. The remaining ownership is split among Oglethorpe Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities.
Southern Company is committed to nuclear energy as an integral component of our full portfolio strategy for power generation. As part of our long-range planning to identify the most cost-effective, reliable and environmentally responsible fuel sources, we continue to evaluate sites within our service territory for potential location of nuclear facilities.
Southern Company has been awarded up to $40 million from DOE to explore, develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear reactor technologies through subsidiary Southern Company Services. The effort will be managed through a new public-private partnership with TerraPower, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the EPRI and Vanderbilt University. Housed at TerraPower’s laboratories in Bellevue, Washington, and at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the research will bolster the development of molten chloride fast reactors, an advanced concept for nuclear generation.