BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) - Alabama Power operates 24 plants serving more than 1.4 million customers.
The majority of the plants are hydroelectric but six plants burn coal.
It's those plants that have drawn the interest of Jeff Deyete. He's a Senior Energy Scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists.
He says, "Alabama is home to one of the oldest and most out of date coal power fleets in the country."
Dyete recently toured plants in our state as part of a campaign to encourage the utility to invest in cleaner reusable energy sources.
"It would save consumers money in the long run. It would be better in protecting public health for the citizens of this state. We really think that's the smarter way to go."
However, Alabama Power spokesman Michael Sznajderman disagrees. He says the utility has spent billions not only keeping the plants efficient, but also burning cleaner than ever.
"We have spent more than $3 billion dollars over the last 10 years to do upgrades to our plants so they can continue to meet environmental standards and they can continue to provide efficient low cost power to our customers."
Part of the upgrade has been converting coal plants into mix fuel facilities. Now the plants can burn either coal or natural gas depending upon which fuel is cheaper to consume.
Sznajderman adds another billion dollars in upgrades is in the works.
Company leaders are looking forward to the upcoming Public Service Commission hearings to showcase why their plans have been and continue to be the best way to keep power costs low."
Amelia Shenstone with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy was also on the recent tour of Alabama Power's plants. She's also ooking forward to the PSC hearings.
Shenstone believes the formula for calculating what you pay each month is outdated. "Alabama Power's rates are set through a formula process that was established in the early 80s. And there's been some controversy recently about whether it's time to revisit that rate setting process."
But Sznajderman says the formula is doing exactly what the PSC intended it to do.
"Over the 30 years the RSC system has been in place in Alabama our total retail price increases have totaled less than one percent every year." He goes on to clarify saying, "The less than one percent increase refers specifically to the base rate adjustment that RSE controls, not our "total retail price."
Still, both parties agree it's a complicated process and rate payers likely do not understand how the final numbers are determined.
Shenstone says, "We think the process needs to be more open so that consumers can see that they are being more adequately protected and that Alabama Power is providing the service that they do provide at a reasonable rate."
May 8, 2013 8:30am
June 18, 2013 8:30am
July 17, 2013 8:30am
RSA Union Building
100 North Union Street
Notice of hearing:
Institute for Economics and Financial Analysis report on power rates:
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