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System Reliability and Resilience

Increases in severe weather, changing customer preferences and advancements in technology continue to transform our world and the way we provide energy to those we serve. We understand that having reliable energy is essential, which is why we are at the forefront of industry-leading innovation and are focused on making smart investments to provide reliable and resilient service to our customers. We do this by upgrading and enhancing our infrastructure, protecting electric and natural gas infrastructure from physical and cyber-threats, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and deploying distributed generation solutions, among other initiatives. We are always preparing for the future.

As we transition to cleaner fuel sources, Southern Company is focused on modernizing our infrastructure to improve system resilience and ensuring processes are in place to minimize physical risks to our energy systems. Over the 2022-2026 planning period, we aim to invest $17 billion across our electric transmission and distribution (T&D) systems, including smart grid and advanced meter infrastructure, energy storage, microgrids, and demand response technology. These efforts will help further modernize our T&D infrastructure, build system-wide resilience and enhance our ability to identify problems and avoid service disruptions for our customers.

To ensure reliability and resiliency of our assets, Southern Company is prioritizing additional safeguards around our generation and delivery areas (ex. concrete poles, strengthened cooling towers, etc.) to withstand and protect operations against extreme temperatures, wind speeds and flooding, which have become increasingly common.

From a generation perspective, our system planning efforts currently indicate that the continued use of natural gas-fired generation is critical for system reliability in our Southeast electric service territory. While we continue to expand our owned renewables fleet and contract for renewable resources through power purchase agreements (PPAs), we also have received approval from our state regulators to construct, acquire and/or contract for additional natural gas fired generation. Understanding that clean energy technology is rapidly evolving, we are making natural gas investments with our net zero by 2050 goal top of mind. For example: 

  • We have acquired existing natural gas facilities that have a remaining useful life of less than 30 years. 

  • The PPAs we have signed for natural gas capacity in our regulated service territories have an average duration consistent with our decarbonization goals.

  • The natural gas facility we are constructing in Alabama is expected to have hydrogen blending capabilities and is in a location conducive to carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), should those technologies become available and economical.

Meeting our system reliability, resilience and sustainability objectives will require continued innovation to both maintain existing levels of grid reliability and resilience and meet the changing needs of customers.

  • Modernized and Resilient Grid: Modernizing the electricity grid remains a focus of our research and development (R&D) activities. As adjacent sectors such as transportation expand their use of electricity to support decarbonization, resiliency and reliability requirements will only be enhanced.

  • Energy Storage: The expanded use of renewable energy and its associated intermittency will require energy storage solutions with a broad range of capacity and duration. Our R&D activities are targeting integrated storage at affordable costs via emerging technologies such as advanced flow batteries and thermal energy storage.

  • Distributed Infrastructure: Customer-specific needs for resiliency, sustainability or a reduced carbon footprint have created opportunities for the deployment of distributed infrastructure. By incorporating distributed resources such as microgrids, we can meet customers needs for resiliency and meet the needs of the overall system reliably and affordably.