Alabama Power reduces air emissions again in 2016

Alabama Power reduces air emissions again in 2016
Alabama Power's Greene County plant completed its conversion from coal to natural gas in 2016. (file)

Providing clean and reliable power to customers is at the core of Alabama Power’s mission, and in 2016 the company continued to meet the challenge.

Newly compiled data shows Alabama Power in 2016 extended its decades-long record of reducing air emissions from its generating facilities. Alabama Power’s fleet of fossil fuel plants last year reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) by 74 percent, while cutting nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 36 percent from 2015 levels. Since 1996, the company’s SO2 emissions are down 96 percent, while NOx emissions are down 87 percent.

Over the past 15 years, the company has spent more than $4 billion on environmental controls and other measures to meet tougher federal regulations. The company’s changing fuel mix, which relies more on natural gas and renewables and less on coal, has contributed to lower emissions.

During the past three years, the company has retired three coal units while switching others to natural gas. In all, the company has gone from 23 coal units down to 10.

Even with all the changes in the company’s generating fleet, Alabama Power’s plant availability remains above the industry average. As for the reliability of the company’s generating units, measured by EFOR, it also beats the industry.

EFOR stands for equivalent forced outage rate, the rate at which units are either forced offline or must reduce capacity because of unexpected equipment failures. A low forced outage rate allows the company to generate electricity from its lowest cost assets and avoid using more expensive resources or buying energy on the market at a higher price.

“Alabama Power continues to face many challenges posed by federal environmental mandates,” said Mike Godfrey, general manager for Environmental Affairs. “As we respond to these challenges, employees continue to focus on the needs of our customers by providing reliable energy that is cleaner than ever.”

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