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Alabama Power, partners and policymakers engaged in innovation ecosystem

Alabama Power recently released its second annual Corporate Sustainability Report, outlining the company’s continued progress in supporting the needs of customers and the communities it serves. The 2021 report provides a broad recap of the company’s accomplishments over the past year, based on Alabama Power’s five pillars of sustainability: People, Environment, Social Responsibility, Governance and Innovation.

“Alabama Power is constantly adapting to meet the challenges and opportunities of the times, while supporting our founding commitment to be of service to the state. And as our story evolves, so does how we share it,” said Stephanie Cooper, vice president of Corporate Sustainability.

This month, Alabama NewsCenter is sharing five stories from the report, highlighting the company’s five pillars of sustainability. Today’s story focuses on Governance:

Alabama Power 2021 Corporate Sustainability Report: Governance from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

As Alabama builds a more resilient, diverse and robust economy that will inspire the next generation of innovators, it takes collaboration and forward-thinking policies to unlock that potential.

State leaders recognized this and acted boldly in 2020 to bring together private-sector experts and policymakers, as well as research scholars, to create an innovation economy roadmap for the future. Alabama Power, with its decades-long record of engaging in public policy to benefit its customers and the state at large, was at the table and a driving force behind the initiative.

The Alabama Innovation Commission, which was established by Gov. Kay Ivey at the height of the pandemic, relied on an advisory council chaired by Alabama Power leaders. In 2021 the commission and advisory council issued a package of policy recommendations in partnership with Alabama native and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. The state’s newly established Alabama Innovation Corporation will implement the recommendations as a public-private partnership.

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That’s a great leap for Alabama, noted Hiren Nitin Patel of Alabama Power’s corporate entrepreneurship team.

“Efforts like that are going to be at the backbone of what drives our economy forward,” Patel said, adding that collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential.

“We believe that strong policy can help grow the economy of our state in new and exciting ways.”

The involvement of Alabama Power leadership in such initiatives reflects a companywide commitment to make Alabama a better place to live, work and raise families. Identifying partnership opportunities that also help build a sustainable and growing economy is essential to this commitment.

“Alabama Power planted a flag, and they said we’re going to make Alabama a national leader for energy tech,” said Nate Schmidt, managing director of Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator, one such partnership based in Birmingham. By partnering with Techstars, a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and leveraging the Alabama Incentives Modernization (AIM) Act, Alabama Power is helping bring about the next frontier in energy technologies.

“One thing that’s occurring is the attraction of talent and entrepreneurs to our state,” Patel said. “What that has actually done is created local jobs in our economy and grown this new type of talent. But it’s also creating this type of livability and quality of life that the future generations are looking for.”

Brooke Gillis, Techstars program manager, said the sense that something exciting is being built is palpable. “Ten years ago, things looked different when I worked on my first startup here in Birmingham. There were probably five or six tech startups … and now there are more than you can even count.”

But for the entrepreneurs now heading to the state, and deciding to stay, a little dash of something good and old-fashioned doesn’t hurt, either.

“There are a lot of big companies that go to Silicon Valley and to New York and Seattle, and they don’t necessarily get loved on as much as they do here in Alabama,” Gillis said. “When they get here, they see this Southern hospitality, they see that people care about them – they see that there’s a lot of people who want to support them. And so, I think the difference, and what makes people want to come here, is because we build this environment that attracts them.”

This story originally appeared in the Alabama Power 2021 Corporate Sustainability Report, which was released on Earth Day 2022. Learn more at