We devote great effort to preserving the environment by mindfully managing its water resources. We are one of the largest water managers in the state, with 11 company-owned lakes and 14 hydroelectric plants that produce emission-free electricity. The company's reservoirs contain some 157,000 acres of water and 4,000 miles of shoreline. The careful management of these resources helps provide drinking water, recreation and wildlife and fish habitat.
Water discharges from our generating facilities meet all local, state and federal regulations for water quality standards before returning to rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Water treatment systems assure all discharges are protecting these water bodies and that the quality of water is maintained to support a healthy aquatic community and drinking water system.
Alabama is an industry leader in research to protect fish near our water intake structures. This research has kept our company in the forefront of evaluating the latest technology to meet potential new federal regulations. This ongoing collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute is identifying innovative and cost-effective solutions for the company to be a good steward and protect fisheries in Alabama waterways.
Water is a vital component for electricity generation. We depend on a large quantity of water to create power and cool our plants. About half of the water withdrawn nationally is for thermoelectric power production. However, it is equally important to know that approximately 95 percent of that water goes back into the river or lake and is available for downstream uses.
Our employees are developing innovative ways to protect the water we use at our generation facilities. We constructed wetlands at Plant Gorgas and Plant Barry that provide a low-maintenance, chemical-free treatment system similar to a natural wetland. We also installed new equipment that creates pulsing flows below Jordan and Thurlow Dams, which are a part of a partnership with agencies to improve water quality and oxygen levels and protect and enhance fishery.
We are working with partners to protect the habitat of the flattened musk turtle on Smith Lake by conducting research and developing enhanced methods to help shoreline residents preserve the federally threatened species’ habitat.
We operate 14 hydroelectric facilities and 11 reservoirs on the Coosa, Tallapoosa and Warrior river systems that can produce more than 1,600 megawatts and average around 6 percent of the company’s annual electric generation. These projects are operated under licenses issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Our operating licenses for our projects are issued for a period ranging from 30-50 years and must be renewed for the company to continue operating its existing hydroelectric developments. As part of the relicensing process, we host a number of public meetings with stakeholders – ranging from citizen groups, Indian tribes and non-governmental organizations to local, state and federal agencies – to address the multiple uses of these hydro projects – power generation, natural resources, recreation and aesthetics.
Learn more about FERC and hydro licensing at www.ferc.gov.