Southern Company (NYSE:SO) Chief Operating Officer Tom Fanning yesterday offered a glimpse of the broad range of initiatives currently under way across Southern Company and its subsidiaries to develop and deploy the technologies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while continuing to provide reliable, affordable electricity to the company's 4.4 million customers across the Southeast.
In remarks delivered to the Southern States Energy Board's Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership's 4th Annual Stakeholders' Briefing held here yesterday, Fanning noted that technology solutions to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will vary depending on geographic region.
"Southern Company believes that a diverse portfolio of solutions will be necessary to reduce CO2 emissions from power generation." Fanning continued, "As there is no single answer, we are pursuing a number of CO2 reduction strategies including increasing energy efficiency and conservation, bringing more renewables online, and deploying new nuclear and clean coal technologies."
Southern Company subsidiaries Georgia Power and Alabama Power are currently conducting pilot-scale, solar photovoltaic (PV) system demonstration projects to help determine the most promising PV technology for the hot, humid southeastern United States.
Fanning also noted that Georgia Power recently submitted an application to the Georgia Public Service Commission to convert the company's Plant Mitchell, near Albany, Ga., from coal to 100 percent biomass. A decision is expected March 17. If approved, the retooled plant would have 96 megawatts of capacity and be the largest biomass facility in the United States.
In addition, Fanning detailed Mississippi Power's request currently before that state's public service commission to build a state-of-the-art integrated gasification combined cycle power plant that would use technology developed by Southern Company in a joint effort with the U.S. Department of Energy. By providing carbon capture and sequestration, the facility will lead the way to lower-carbon electricity production.
Fanning noted that clean coal, including carbon capture and storage (CCS), increasingly appears to show promise for the future. "The Southeast has large capacity and very secure geologic sequestration potential," he said. "That's one of the reasons Southern Company employs such a robust research and development program related to CCS, including a CO2 pilot injection program at Mississippi Power's Plant Daniel."
Fanning emphasized, however, that existing barriers to commercial-scale operation of CCS such as uncertainty about the cost of carbon capture technology and outstanding regulatory and long-term storage liability issues have yet to be resolved fully. "If we are to continue to take the steps to widely deploy CCS, it is imperative that regulatory frameworks be consistent and fair to all industries."
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