By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, July 14, Conservation Alabama put out a statement to commend Alabama Power’s efforts to generate 500 megawatts of energy from renewable resources, including solar. The Southern Company affiliate has applied for approval from the Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC) to provide options for customers who want to purchase renewable energy, including projects that generate up to 80 megawatts each.
Executive Director of Conservation Alabama, Tammy Herrington said in a statement, “This is the beginning of what we would like to see as a long-term change in how Alabama produces and uses energy. Alabama Power is signaling their commitment to renewable energy, and we look forward to working with them to expand this program to make our State a leader in solar energy.”
If the PSC approves Alabama Power’s request then between 10 percent and 15 percent of their energy could come from renewable sources, including solar, wind, and hydroelectric power.
Alabama Power is asking for up to 500 megawatts of renewable generation, including solar in a bid to boost its renewable power options. Each proposed project would be up to 80 megawatts each. The company said that the move is in response to growing customer interest.
In June, Alabama Power filed a petition with the Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC) to allow the company to pursue a variety of projects up to 80 megawatts each, totaling up to 500 megawatts over a six-year period. The company has identified solar as one of the areas for potential growth in renewables.
Alabama Power vice president of regulatory and corporate affairs Nick Sellers, told the Alabama Newscenter’s Michael Tomberlin, “This proposal provides a common-sense path for expanding renewables in Alabama. The Public Service Commission has been clear that they do not want renewables to be subsidized by all of our customers. This filing achieves that policy directive while also allowing for solar and new renewable energy projects that are expected to provide economic benefit for all of our customers.”
If the request is approved, Alabama Power could build its own renewable projects or purchase power from other renewable-generated sources.
Sellers said that 500 megawatts is between four percent and five percent of the company’s capacity.
Herrington said, “Renewable energy means cleaner water and air for all Alabamians. More companies and more citizens are demanding renewable energy options. This is a win for our environment, our economy, and our communities.”
Alabama Power vice president of marketing Tony Smoke told Tomberlin, “This program was driven by conversations with customers looking to meet renewable mandates pushed down from their headquarters. Our field representatives have worked hard to identify customers who could be impacted and if this is approved, we will go directly to work with them to explore options.”
Sellers said, “Our company was founded on renewable energy – hydroelectricity. As you know, we’ve got a significant amount of wind generation in our portfolio and now this gives us an opportunity to add solar to that renewable generation mix as well.”
“Alabama Newscenter” is an internet publication owned and produced by Alabama Power.
House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) said in a statement, “The proposal by Alabama Power to seek approval for up to 500 megawatts of solar power over the next six years is an exciting development for our State and many of its electricity customers. It is a win for the environment, for local jobs, and for our State’s future.”
Rep. Ford said, “With solar, as with any emerging technology, the key is to make sure that programs that benefit some people don’t do so at a higher cost to others. By making sure that these new solar power additions don’t affect prices for non-solar customers, this proposal is not only environmentally friendly, but is also economically fair.”
Rep. Darrio Melton (D) said in his own statement, “I am pleased to learn the news that our State’s largest utility, Alabama Power, is proposing to add as much as 500 megawatts of solar power to its energy offerings in the next six years. This is a positive step forward for energy diversity in our State and welcome news for those who want to be see more renewable energy deployed in Alabama in a responsible and sustainable way.”
Rep. Melton continued, “I particularly applaud the steps Alabama Power appears to have taken to ensure that its proposal to deploy more renewables doesn’t burden working families and other customers with higher costs. I have expressed serious concerns that Alabama could follow the lead of other states and deploy solar power in a way that shifts costs to lower-income customers, but this proposal appears to protect against that possibility.”
This plan focuses on large-scale solar projects, but Alabama Power also offers homeowners the option to generate their own solar power using rooftop panels.
Founded in 1999, Conservation Alabama is the only full-time lobbyist for the environment in our State. Conservation Alabama has offices in Mobile and Montgomery.