Alabama PSC meeting leaves many questions unanswered about cost choices, coal ash safety

Guest Blog | December 13, 2016 | Press Releases

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
December 13, 2016

Contact: Amelia Shenstone, Campaigns Director, 339-223-0536, [email protected]

PSC meeting leaves many questions unanswered about cost choices, coal ash safety
Advocates question lack of transparency

MONTGOMERY–Today’s Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC) meeting left many questions unanswered regarding Alabama Power’s plan to spend over $1 billion on coal ash handling and other environmental compliance at coal plants over the next five years. We also learned Alabama Power plans to spend an additional $1.034 billion over a longer period on closing its coal ash ponds using a method widely criticized by environmentalists. The PSC has not required the company to give the public critical details on what alternative options were considered.

Today’s informal meeting is the only opportunity the PSC offers for the public to ask questions about Alabama Power’s choices affecting the environment, and the costs of those choices. The public Q&A was cut off after 20 minutes when the meeting adjourned for lunch.

Alabama Power plans to leave over 84 million tons of toxic coal ash where it is, posing a perpetual threat to public health and the health of the environment, instead of removing it from unlined pits at six power plants near Alabama’s waterways and upstream of drinking water supplies (download pdf map).

Amelia Shenstone, Campaigns Director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, asked questions at the meeting, and issued the following statement:

“The PSC keeps allowing Alabama Power to charge customers more and more — and earn more profits — by sprucing up old coal plants, and today’s presentation showed even more spending is on the horizon. Is fixing these plants really cheaper than closing the oldest ones? Unfortunately, there is no public comparison of options. It should be the PSC’s duty to assure the public that the lowest cost option is truly being pursued, but this PSC has so far failed to do so.

$1 billion is a significant additional investment in coal ash cleanup, and Alabamians deserve to know what risks are involved in Alabama Power’s current coal ash closure plans. Capping ash in place has not been shown to prevent groundwater contamination. The best way to protect our water resources is for Alabama Power to excavate its coal ash to lined, dry storage, away from our rivers and waterways, without placing an undue risk-burden on low-income communities and communities of color who often disproportionately bear the brunt of pollution.”


About Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
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