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Generous rainfall in 2021 helps Alabama Power customers

The rain last summer may have dampened outdoor plans from time to time, but it contributed greatly to Alabama Power’s ability to provide clean, renewable low-cost hydropower to customers.

Rainfall for eight of the 12 months in 2021 was higher than recorded 30-year averages. Most of that rain occurred during the summer months.

“In Alabama, we typically experience a drier summer that results in more conservative hydropower operations,” said Lisa Martindale, Southern Company’s hydro reservoir management manager. “However, last year’s June, July and August ranked sixth in hydropower generation. September was even better, ranking first in terms of historical generation.”

Alabama’s Power hydro basins got 62 inches of rainfall over the course of the year. The highest rainfall for any basin was the Black Warrior River, which includes Bankhead, Holt and Smith lakes, at almost 71 inches for the year.

Overall in 2021, Alabama Power hydro production was 57% more than what was projected for the year. For annual hydrogeneration, 2021 ranked 13th highest since 1928.

Alabama Power lakes took in some heavy rainfall during 2021, supporting the company’s production of hydropower. (Billy Brown / Shorelines)

Typically, Alabama Power gets between 4% and 8% of its electricity annually from renewable hydro. The company’s diverse generating mix includes power produced from nuclear, natural gas and coal-fired plants, and from other renewable resources, such as solar and wind.

“Hydropower is a key part of Alabama Power’s energy mix, and the upgrades we’ve made to our plants ensure that we continue to provide low-cost hydropower to our customers,” Martindale said.

Turbine upgrades at several Alabama Power dams in recent years have helped the company produce more low-cost, renewable energy with less water, ultimately helping customers save money.

Alabama Power has 14 hydroelectric facilities on 11 lakes across the state. The company’s lakes also provide sources of drinking water, recreational opportunities and help to fuel local economies.

This story originally appeared on Shorelines.