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Alabama Power’s fleet transition generates opportunities

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 Environment.

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

When it became necessary to retire Plant Gorgas in 2019, Alabama Power said goodbye to a facility that dependably served the state for over 100 years and provided, for those who worked there, a real bond of community.

Just as generations of Gorgas employees established a legacy of operational excellence, the process of closing the plant safely and effectively – and preparing the site for the future − required great care, skill and a commitment to do things the right way. Months went into planning every aspect of the process that culminated in a 10-second demolition sequence that brought down the boiler houses and turbines.

RELATED: Alabama Power, project partners safely demolish retired Plant Gorgas vent stack

Following the implosion, crews began systematically dismantling the materials and carefully grouping them by type for recycling and repurposing. “Whether it’s aluminum or copper or ferrous metal, it’s staged accordingly then recycled off-site with partners like U.S. Steel, ACIPCO and Nucor Steel so that nothing goes to waste,” said Caleb Howton, construction manager.

“Our biggest focus out here is safety, for our personnel as well as the environment,” Howton said.

As the land is being reclaimed, trees planted and grass laid, Plant Manager Steve Wright offered a broader view of what it all means.

“You would think that at a plant you’re retiring and demolishing, sustainability wouldn’t be a key attribute, but it really is. From the steel that’s being recycled, to the concrete that’s being reused, to the river, the infrastructure and everything that’s still in place for future use,” Wright said.

As Alabama Power transitions its generating fleet to best serve customers, the company works continuously to mitigate the impacts to employees and the communities we serve.

“We’ve always worked to do what’s best for the state, what’s best for our customers, but also the local communities, and this is no different,” Wright said.

For decades, Plant Gorgas faithfully served the people of Alabama by producing the electricity needed to power and grow our state. And the reclaimed site offers its own possibilities, to continue serving future generations in new and exciting ways.

RELATED: End of an era: Alabama Power family bids goodbye to Plant Gorgas

Mike Smothers, Operations Team leader at Plant Gorgas, said, “One chapter’s closed and a new one’s opened up, and we know there’s always better things as we move forward.”

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