Our History - Technology | Alabama Power

Throughout its history, Alabama Power has been on the cutting edge of technology. Company engineers developed designs adopted throughout the utility industry. Chief engineer Oscar Thurlow developed the Thurlow Backwater Suppressor, an invention that reduces backwater pressure on hydro turbines from water leaving the tailrace. E.R. Coubourn's designs for conductors, transformers and substations were used by Westinghouse and other manufacturers and made rural electrification economically feasible. F.H. Britton Jr. solved the lighting problem in coal mines by designing portable lights from explosive-proof material. The company was also an early champion of electric vehicles.

Early experiments in radio technology by Alabama Power engineers led to the creation of WSY, the state's first licensed radio station. The station was created by Alabama Power to keep in touch with line crews in isolated areas. However, public interest in the "radiophone" was so great that the equipment was converted to broadcast entertainment programs, including performances by Alabama Power's employee orchestra. In 1923, the company donated its broadcasting equipment to a new station called WAPI being developed by Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University). WAPI continues to broadcast today.