Southern Company's operating subsidiaries continue to expand their utilization of generation facilities that rely on renewable resources to produce electricity, including those based on solar, wind, biomass and other renewable platforms described in this section. Since 2012, the Southern Company system has added or announced more than 4,000 megawatts of renewable generation.
Southern Company subsidiaries may self-build renewable generation facilities and/or enter into power purchase agreements for energy and environmental attributes from facilities fueled by renewable resources. They may retain the right to use the generated energy as renewable energy for customers and retire the environmental attributes. At their sole discretion, they may also choose to sell the energy and the associated environmental attributes — separately or bundled together — to third parties.
As of November 17, 2016, Southern Power owns more than 1,700 megawatts of solar generating capacity at 27 facilities operating or under construction in California, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Texas. Nineteen of these facilities are co-owned by third parties with Southern Power having the majority ownership.
With the largest voluntary solar portfolio of any investor-owned utility in the United States, Georgia Power is a national leader in solar energy. In addition, Georgia Power began offering rooftop solar to customers in July of 2015 Learn more.
Alabama Power recently received approval for three solar projects under its Renewable Generation Certificate authority and is currently constructing two 10.6-megawatt solar facilities at the Anniston Army Depot and at Fort Rucker. Both are expected to be completed by year-end 2016. Alabama Power retains the right to all energy and associated renewable energy credits (RECs) from these projects, which it may use to serve customers or sell to third parties. Alabama Power has also contracted for the output of a 72-megawatt solar facility in Chambers County beginning in 2018. Walmart has subscribed to a majority of the RECs from the project under a long-term contract with Alabama Power. Those RECs will be retired on Walmart's behalf. Alabama Power is marketing the remaining RECs to other customers who have an interest in renewable energy.
Mississippi Power is collaborating with three solar energy development companies and the U.S. Navy to build 105 megawatts of utility-scale solar electric generating farms at three different locations. The developers will finance each installation, with Mississippi Power receiving all of the energy and associated renewable energy credits (RECs) generated by the projects. The energy and RECs may be used to serve customers with renewable energy, for future renewable energy programs or to sell at wholesale to third parties.
Gulf Power has received approval from the Florida Public Service Commission to purchase the energy output from 120 megawatts of solar generation facilities. These projects are partnerships with the U.S. Navy and Air Force and are expected to begin operation in 2017. Gulf Power will use the energy generated by these resources to serve customers or sell the energy and/or associated renewable energy credits to third parties.
As of January 9, 2017, Southern Power owns more than 1,440 megawatts of wind generating capacity at eight facilities operating or under development in Maine, Oklahoma and Texas. In January, the company announced its fourth wind facility in Texas, the 276-MW Bethel Wind Energy Center.
Alabama Power is currently purchasing the output from 404 megawatts of wind generation facilities.
Georgia Power began purchasing the energy output from 250 megawatts of wind generation facilities in the first half of 2016.
Gulf Power began purchasing the energy output from 178 megawatts of wind generation facilities in January 2016.
Alabama Power, Georgia Power and Gulf Power receive all the renewable energy credits from these projects, which they may use to serve customers with wind energy or sell to third parties for the benefit of customers.
Southern Company has also conducted studies of offshore wind in an effort to evaluate the potential for wind generation in the Southeast
Subsidiary Southern Power began commercial operation of the Nacogdoches Generating Facility in Sacul, Texas, in 2012. The 115-megawatt plant - one of the largest wood-fired biomass plants in the U.S. - serves the city of Austin.
Partnerships with Resolute Forest Products and Westervelt Renewable Energy have provided Alabama Power with 22.5 megawatts of renewable generation capacity from wood byproducts. Alabama Power has the ability to sell the renewable energy credits from these facilities to third parties for the benefit of customers.
Green Energy/Landfill Gas
Southern Company subsidiaries, both individually and in partnerships, are offering customers a growing amount of renewable energy options, which may be purchased in "blocks" of green energy from qualified sources.
Gulf Power owns and operates a 3,200-kilowatt landfill gas-to-electricity plant in Escambia County, Florida, that produces enough electricity to serve 900 homes.
Georgia Power has a partnership with Waste Management, Inc. for 6.4 megawatts of landfill gas-to-energy projects to supply customers enrolled in its Green Energy Program.
The Southern Company system is ranked seventh in the nation for hydroelectric power generation, with a combined generating capacity of 2,825 megawatts. Turbine retrofit projects at several hydro facilities have increased hydro capacity by over 5 percent. Also, state-of-the-art gate systems are being installed at many plants to help protect the habitat of marine animals, improve efficiency and create more stable pond-level control.