SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

New research details least-cost plan for utility giant Southern Company to comply with forthcoming Clean Power Plan


Contact: Jennifer Rennicks, SACE, 865.235.1448,


Atlanta, Ga. (July 30, 2015) – Today the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) released a summary of research into a least-cost plan for Southern Company to comply with pending federal carbon pollution regulations known as the Clean Power Plan. Findings indicate that if the utility integrates both natural gas and renewable energy into its system, it could save customers $1-2 billion compared to relying on natural gas alone. A detailed summary of the findings is posted on SACE’s Footprints blog.

With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency poised to release its final Clean Power Plan rule within weeks, some utilities have raised alarm about the rule’s cost. This research is the first to examine how each and every power plant in Southern Company’s system might operate under these new rules to provide reliable service to Southern Company’s customers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

“The recent announcement by Alabama Power that it intends to add 500 MW of solar and potentially other renewable energy resources signals that Southern Company understands this reality,” explained John D. Wilson, SACE’s Research Director. “Three of Southern Company’s four subsidiaries have begun the shift to renewable energy, with well over a thousand megawatts of solar and wind likely to be on their systems within the next few years.”

Southern Company has historically relied on coal imported from the north to generate most of the electricity it supplies to its customers. With recent commitments to solar energy, Southern Company is building out clean and truly local energy resources.

The research conducted and commissioned by SACE examines a more aggressive renewable energy scenario that brings 7,200 MW into Southern Company’s system. SACE’s analysis suggests that only 1,100 MW of natural gas plants would be needed along with wind and solar to replace aging coal plants. SACE’s analysis strongly suggests that Southern Company could lower costs – regardless of how stringent EPA’s forthcoming carbon pollution standards may be – by retiring several additional coal plants.

An aggressive, cost-effective renewable energy strategy could result in Southern Company cutting carbon emissions 18% below today’s pollution levels. This analysis supports EPA’s decision to broaden carbon pollution control options beyond updating or repowering existing power plants, by adopting lower-cost renewable energy technologies.

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Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that work to address the impacts of Global Climate Change and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at