Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Southern Company Breaks Ground on Biomass Plant

/PRNewswire/ -- Southern Power, the Southern Company subsidiary that acquires, builds, manages and owns wholesale generation assets, today took a major step in building one of the nation's largest biomass-fueled projects with a groundbreaking ceremony in Sacul, Texas.

"Southern Company continues to develop and deploy smarter and cleaner energy technologies, including increased energy efficiency, nuclear power, clean coal and renewables," said David Ratcliffe, Southern Company chairman, president and CEO. "This project represents another step in developing a diverse portfolio to meet the nation's growing energy demands."

"This is an exciting time for Southern Power as we expand our presence in the wholesale market and diversify our fuel mix with a renewable resource," said Southern Power President Ronnie Bates. "Southern Power has a reputation of helping its customers meet their energy needs in cost-effective, reliable and environmentally responsible manner and we're pleased to be a partner with Austin Energy on a project that supports their environmental goals."

Southern Power acquired the 100-megawatt project -- the Nacogdoches Generating Facility -- from American Renewables, LLC on Oct. 9, noting at the time that it would move ahead with construction and bring the plant on line in the summer of 2012. The plant's output is committed to Austin Energy in a 20-year agreement that will help the city of Austin, Texas, meet a 30-percent renewable energy goal.

As a Southern Company subsidiary, Southern Power supports the parent company's commitments to corporate responsibility, which include generating affordable and reliable electricity and reducing environmental impact. Southern Company has invested about $6.3 billion in environmental controls and plans to spend an additional $3.1 billion through 2011 to further reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury.

The company is committed to finding solutions to environmental issues that make technological, environmental, and economic sense.

The Nacogdoches plant is one of two Southern Company biomass projects. The Georgia Public Service Commission in March approved Georgia Power's application to convert its 96 megawatt Plant Mitchell near Albany, Ga., to biomass. Georgia Power is the Atlanta-based Southern Company subsidiary serving 2.25 million customers in 155 of Georgia's 159 counties.

Southern Company is evaluating the feasibility of converting five additional coal plants to biomass as well.

Construction of the Nacogdoches facility will take about 32 months and will generate about 300 construction jobs. Approximately 40 permanent jobs will be created to operate the plant.

Total cost of the project will be between $475 million and $500 million. The plant, which will be built on 165 acres, will be fueled with biomass materials, including forest residue from the surrounding areas, wood processing residues and clean municipal wood waste. The project will require approximately 1 million tons of fuel annually, which is planned to be procured within a 75-mile radius of the project site.

Southern Power is among the largest wholesale energy providers in the Southeast, meeting the electricity needs of municipalities, electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities. The company owns and operates more than 7,500 megawatts with facilities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina and has an additional 820 megawatts committed to construction in North Carolina and Texas.

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