As the second leading source of electricity in the United States, nuclear power is the only large-scale, carbon-free energy source that operates around the clock in between refueling outages. It’s reliable and cost-effective for our customers, and another way that we are diversifying our energy mix to meet current and future energy needs for our state. Here’s what you need to know about nuclear.
Nuclear energy is energy released when the nucleus of an atom splits into two or more smaller nuclei. This reaction is called nuclear fission. Incidentally, when an atom splits and releases smaller neutrons, they will hit surrounding atoms and generate additional neutrons. More and more energy is released throughout this chain reaction. We can use all this nuclear energy to produce electricity safely, reliably and on a large scale.
Alabama Power's Plant Farley, located near Dothan, runs off of uranium fuel pellets. Through the process of fission, nuclear fuel is used to heat water into steam, which ultimately turns the turbine and creates electricity for the grid. One uranium fuel pellet, roughly the size of a pencil eraser, produces as much emission-free energy as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 1,780 pounds of coal or 149 gallons of oil. Because of the energy packed into nuclear fuel, nuclear power plants can run for 12-to-18 months straight without being taken offline for refueling, which means they’re producing electricity 24/7, 365 days a year. Combine that with the fact that nuclear plants are also among the safest structures in the country – designed to withstand major weather events and threats – and it’s easy to see why nuclear power is one of America’s most reliable energy sources.
Nuclear energy is clean energy, nearly equal to renewable energy production in terms of the level of carbon dioxide emissions and other air pollutants.
Nuclear power reactors are the most efficient method for generating sustained power when it comes to fuel cost, needing only uranium isotopes and water.
Nuclear plants are built to generate electricity for hundreds of years. One small modular reactor rod is good for about six years before needing to be replaced.
The operation of nuclear power plants is safe for plant workers and surrounding communities thanks to extremely strict safety protocols, always evolving technologies and state and federal standards upheld by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
At Alabama Power, we have one operating nuclear power plant. The Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant, located near Dothan in southeast Alabama, is responsible for generating 18% of Alabama Power’s total electricity. Our diverse mix of power sources makes our grid more flexible, resilient and stable in times of increased demand.
At Plant Farley, operated by Southern Nuclear Operating Company, each unit is capable of generating 900 megawatts of electricity, making up a total capacity of 1,800 megawatts. Starting in 1977, Plant Farley has generated more than 350 million megawatts. That's enough electricity to supply every Alabama Power residential customer for 25 years.
While nuclear generation technology is very safe, we work with state and federal organizations to maintain a comprehensive emergency preparedness program. This program includes a strong commitment to safety, emergency planning, communication with area residents and collaborative efforts with the local emergency responders. Our top priority is and always will be protecting the safety of the communities, residents and employees.View Public Safety Info