ajc.com


 ajc.com
Business
  Main page
  CNN
  Coke
  Delta
  Ga. 100 Stocks
  Horizon
  Markets
  Skyline Report
  Wage Finder
Nation / World
Metro
Sports
Living
Opinion
Travel
Health
Your Money
Buyer's Edge
Jobs
Autos
Homes
Classifieds
 AccessAtlanta
Entertainment
Events
Pop Music
Movies
Theater & Arts
Restaurants
Recreation
Personals
 ajc services
 Archives
 Today's paper
 Obituaries
 
 Tickets
 
 Teacher aids
 Customer service
 Sitemap
 E-mail News
 Sign up for our
 FREE newsletters:
 • News
 • Sports
 • Business
 • Travel Deals
 ajc guides
 Schools
 Nursing Homes
 Visitors
 ajc stores
 Gifts & Guides
 Pages
 Photos
 Posters & Books
 Reprints

EMAIL THIS PRINT THIS MOST POPULAR SUBSCRIBE TO AJC
ajc.com | Business | Southern's new fuel is uniquely 'green' [ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 5/30/03 ]

Southern's new fuel is uniquely 'green'

By MATT KEMPNER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

What are they smoking at Southern Co.? Grass.

The Atlanta-based parent of Georgia Power is mixing grass pellets with the coal it burns at Plant Mitchell in Albany. The green stuff -- coastal Bermuda, switchgrass and, on the horizon, fescue -- reduces emissions at power plants.

Southern could use the clippings. The company is Georgia's single biggest air polluter. Federal environmental regulators are suing over aging coal-burning plants. And shareholders recently tried to pass a resolution pushing Southern to clean up its act.

The company has been testing switchgrass at an Alabama plant since 2001. In April it extended testing to Plant Mitchell in South Georgia, this time compressing the grass into little cubes to work through the system better.

"The goal is to find cost-effective means of using renewable energy," says Doug Boylan, a company research engineer.

Grass is more expensive than coal, though the company declines to estimate how much more it costs.

Don't bother volunteering loaded lawn mower bags. The company has lined up grass farmers in Georgia and Alabama.

Grass at the Alabama plant cut coal use up to 10 percent, with a similar reduction in sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions, Southern says. Now the company plans to charge a premium to Alabama customers who volunteer to use environmentally friendly grass-fueled energy.

But grass won't significantly replace coal, says Charles Goodman, Southern's senior vice president of research and environmental affairs.

"It is land-intensive. You have to grow a lot of grass in order to generate a megawatt," he said.

The company's grass consumption deserves praise, says Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. But he considers it "a minuscule" effort for such a big company. "We think they can be providing significantly more leadership."

EMAIL THIS PRINT THIS MOST POPULAR SUBSCRIBE TO AJC





   Search ajc.com
   Enter keyword:
     
 Search our Stacks
 archive of staff stories
 back to 1985.
 



By using ajc.com you accept the terms of our Visitor Agreement. Please read it.
Questions about your privacy? See our updated Privacy Statement.
Interested in reprint permission? See our Permissions Policy.
© 2003 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution