As one of the largest U.S. utilities, Southern Company provides service to more than 4 million customers in the southeastern United States. And this leading energy company minimizes its environmental impact by developing renewable energy sources, reducing energy consumption and offering award-winning energy efficiency programs.
Southern Company's renewable energy efforts include biomass, solar, landfill gas, geothermal and wind energy. After years of testing biomass fuel sources, the company began construction on one of the largest 100-percent biomass plants in the nation: the 100-megawatt Nacogdoches Generating Facility Austin, Texas. In 2009, the company began converting a coal-fueled power plant in Albany, Ga., to biomass fuel; when complete, that facility will produce 96 megawatts of power, enough to power 12,000 homes. Southern Company and partner Turner Renewable Energy will build one of the nation’s largest solar plants near Cimarron, N.M.
Southern Company has developed innovative programs such as the Energy Checkup, a free home energy evaluation that offers customers low-cost ways to reduce energy use, and a weatherization assistance program that helps low-income families make their homes more efficient.
“We have invested billions of dollars in environmental controls for our power plants and in energy-efficiency programs for customers. Between now and 2020, we’ll invest another billion in energy-efficiency and demand-control programs,” says Becky Blalock, senior vice president and chief information officer.
Southern Company minimizes its own environmental impact – such as implementing efficient and environmentally sound data centers and operations – by working with partner companies such as Dell, who produces many energy-efficient computers and computer products. Dell also provides Southern Company with up to date with innovations in energy-efficient equipment.
“One of the things that Dell has helped us recently with is [hardware] virtualization. Virtualization allows us to reduce the number of physical [computer] servers, so we can take up to 30 virtual servers and place them on one physical server,” says Stan Hoptroff, director of infrastructure services for Southern Company.
“You have to have partners, people you trust, to come in from the outside and help you manage a large operation of this caliber. Dell really does a great job of helping us keep up with the tremendous amount of change that’s happening in the world, particularly in the IT space,” Blalock adds.