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Hydro helps power a better Alabama

Alabama Power‘s mission to electrify the state started 116 years ago. The company began harnessing the power of water, starting with Lay Dam, which went into service in 1914. The spread of electricity led to exponential growth in all parts of the state. The company is still using water today to generate more electricity than ever before – about 8% of its annual energy mix.

Today is National Hydropower Day, which recognizes the vital role hydro plays in bolstering the nation’s clean energy infrastructure and providing grid resiliency and reliability. Hydropower is the second largest renewable in the U.S.

Alabama Power owns and operates 14 hydroelectric plants, which produce zero-emission, lower-cost electricity – with storage capacity for reliability – for customers across Alabama.

In 2021, above-average rainfall allowed for 57% more hydropower generation than projected for the year – one of the largest levels of sustainable hydro production by the company since tracking began in 1928.

“We refer to hydro as the ‘original renewable resource,’” said Herbie Johnson, Southern Company Hydro general manager. “Hydro helps with grid flexibility and reliability, and it also will play a key role in Southern Company’s commitment to net zero.”

Alabama has more fresh water flowing through it than any other state in the continental U.S. Alabama Power lakes and dams impound more than 157,000 acres of water and provide more than 3,500 miles of shoreline for the use and enjoyment of the public. We maintain 68 recreation sites and about 21 miles of hiking and walking trails open to the public. We help protect these shared resources today and for future generations.

Alabama Power’s hydroelectric facilities and reservoirs help manage water flows during periods of heavy rains. The reservoirs are also important sources of drinking water.

As the backbone of the nation’s electricity system, hydropower has played and will continue to play a critical role in helping states reach their clean energy targets. Hydropower is a major job creator, employing about 66,000 workers in the U.S.

Learn more about Alabama Power lakes and the company’s hydroelectric operations at or by following #HydroDay on social media.

This story originally appeared on Shorelines.