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Generation and Transmission Energy
PowerSouth’s Central Generation facility, located in Gantt, Ala., consists of the Maury A. McWilliams Steam Power Plant, the James A. Vann Jr. Power Plant and the Point A and Gantt Hydroelectric Power Plants.
The McWilliams Power Plant was PowerSouth’s first generating plant and was named after Maury A. McWilliams, PowerSouth's first board president, recognizing his untiring and faithful efforts in bringing about construction of the plant. The plant’s first two units began operation in the mid-1950s, and the third unit went online in 1959. Having used the plant to its full life expectancy, PowerSouth repowered the plant in 1996 to help meet future generation needs. The repowering process included the installation of a natural gas-fired 107-megawatt combustion turbine-generator and a heat recovery system that recycles exhaust heat to create steam. The steam is used by the plant’s original units to produce electricity. The repowered plant provides 159-megawatts during the winter and 149-megawatts during summer. At its winter peak, McWilliams generates enough electricity to power approximately 159,000 homes.
Construction on the Vann Plant, adjacent to the McWilliams Plant, was completed December 2001.The plant – named after former PowerSouth President and CEO James A. Vann, Jr. – uses a combined-cycle process of natural gas and steam generation. The natural gas used to fuel the plant is delivered via a 61-mile, 20-inch pipeline that runs from Flomaton, Ala., to the plant site. The Vann Plant serves as base load generation for PowerSouth and its distribution members. It boasts a winter capacity of 539 megawatts and a summer capacity of 501 megawatts. It was designed to incorporate the most environmentally friendly equipment available to generate affordable electricity, and it is PowerSouth’s cleanest and most efficient fossil-fired generating facility to date, generating enough electricity to power approximately 539,000 homes.
The Point A and Gantt Hydroelectric Power Plants combine for a generating capacity of 8 megawatts – enough to power approximately 8,000 homes. Water is held in large reservoirs behind the dams with hydroelectric power plants below. The dams create strong water flows which move turbine blades that turn the rotor of an electric generator.
The Gantt Plant is located in Gantt, Ala., at the site of a former grist mill on the Conecuh River. The Point A Plant is approximately five miles downstream near the town of River Falls, Ala. Today, the plants are operated and monitored using modern technology from on-site control rooms or a centralized control room at McWilliams Power Plant. The hydro plants operate only when river levels allow an adequate supply of water to turn turbines.
Located in Leroy, Ala., the Charles R. Lowman Power Plant was named after former General Manager Charles R. Lowman, who served 38 years with PowerSouth. The Lowman Plant operates three generating units. Lowman Plant’s Unit 1 began commercial operation in 1969. Units 2 and 3 went commercial in 1979 and 1980, respectively.
The plant has a generating capacity of 556 megawatts — enough to power approximately 556,000 homes.
Coal, transported either by barge from the Tombigbee River or by rail, is the primary source of fuel used at Lowman. The coal is burned at temperatures greater than 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit to produce steam.
Since their construction 30 years ago, units 2 and 3 use scrubbers, or Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) technology to remove sulfur dioxide (SO2) from flue gases. All the plant’s units are equipped with electrostatic precipitators (ESPs), which preserve air quality by preventing particulate matter from entering the atmosphere.
Despite PowerSouth’s early commitment to the environment, recent regulations necessitated an Air Quality Control (AQC) project in 2009, which included adding a new scrubber system for units 1 and 2. Units 2 and 3 employ a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system, reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and mercury emissions when used in combination with the units’ scrubbers. The plant’s existing scrubbers were upgraded to further reduce SO2 emissions from unit 3.
Located in McIntosh, Ala., PowerSouth’s 350-megawatt McIntosh Power Plant currently includes two natural-gas fired combustion turbines and the United States’ only Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) unit. The current natural gas units went commercial in 1998, generating a total of 240 megawatts. The CAES facility generates 110 megawatts.
An additional two generation units are near construction completion at the McIntosh Plant site. The two natural-gas fired, simple-cycle units will provide 360 additional megawatts, increasing the output of plant’s natural-gas units to 600 megawatts and overall Plant capacity to 710 megawatts — enough electricity to power approximately 710,000 homes.
The two additional units, classified as peaking units, are designed to provide additional electricity to the PowerSouth system during “peak” usage periods — usually short periods of time during early morning or evening hours. The McIntosh Plant’s turbines and generators offer simple-cycle technology with short start-up time, making them suitable for continuous, peaking and emergency operation.
In June 1992, PowerSouth purchased an 8.16-percent ownership interest in units 1 and 2 of Alabama Power Company’s James H. Miller Jr. Electric Generating Plant near Birmingham, Ala. PowerSouth receives 114 megawatts of coal-fired generation from the plant.
At full capacity, the plant can generate about 2.69 billion watts of electricity — enough to serve the needs of about 885,000 homes.
Unit 1 became operational in 1978, unit 2 in 1985, unit 3 in 1989 and unit 4 in 1991. Total generating capacity for the plant’s four units is 2,664 megawatts.
Green power may be purchased in 100-kilowatt-hour blocks, equivalent to about 8 percent of a typical household's monthly energy use, for only $2.00 per month. To put things in perspective, the environmental impact of buying just two blocks of green power per month for a year is equal to recycling 480 pounds of aluminum (15,322 cans) or recycling 1,766 pounds of newspaper. You can purchase as many blocks as you'd like. The minimum participation period is one year.
Click here for the Green Power Choice program registration form. Helping the environment today is vital to protecting our resources for tomorrow.
In 2008, PowerSouth joined five other generation and transmission cooperatives to support the 150 megawatt Story Country Wind Energy Center. The Center, located in Story County, Iowa, went commercial in Fall 2008.
One hundred 1.5 megawatt turbines, more than 260 feet in height, line the Iowa landscape. The project is owned by NextEra Energy Resources. PowerSouth’s purchased power agreement is for 20 megawatts of the wind farm’s 150 megawatt output.
PowerSouth received approximately 45,000 renewable energy credits (RECs) in 2009 from the power purchased from the wind farm. An REC is a tradable, non-tangible energy commodity that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource. PowerSouth books RECs for a 24-month cycle.
Since the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow in Alabama and northwest Florida, PowerSouth looks for renewable energy opportunities in windswept plains, sun-drenched deserts and elsewhere in the country. In fact, all of the cooperatives that form the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) have those opportunities.
PowerSouth is one of the founding members of NRCO, a not-for-profit cooperative formed to promote and facilitate the development of our nation’s renewable energy resources for America’s electric cooperatives. NRCO’s members pool their resources and expertise to spread the risk of developing renewable resources for power generation. This benefit supports PowerSouth’s mission of providing competitively priced power.
As utilities nationwide face increasing capacity needs and stricter environmental standards, NRCO will assist cooperatives in meeting these challenges.
Visit NRCO’s website for additional information.
PowerSouth's member-owners include 16 distribution cooperatives in south and central Alabama and northwest Florida, and the Alabama municipalities of Andalusia, Brundidge, Elba and Opp. PowerSouth’s 20 member owners distribute energy to more than 1 million residential, commercial and industrial end-users in 39 counties in Alabama and 10 counties in northwest Florida. PowerSouth Energy Cooperative employs more than 600 people at nine locations.