Tag: Alabama Power

Hurricane Michael Not on Route to Threaten Mobile Bay, Coal Ash Basin

Hurricane Michael is not expected to score a direct hit on Mobile Bay, relieving concern that the coal ash basin at Alabama Power Company’s Plant Barry could be threatened, according to Cade Kistler, program director for Mobile Baykeeper, an environmental organization.

Kistler and Casi Callaway, Mobile Baykeeper’s executive director, citing a report issued by Baykeeper, earlier raised questions about a hurricane’s effect on safety of the coal ash storage basin.

Alabama Power spokesman Michael Sznajderman said in an email that the company is prepared for the storm. The coal ash stored next to Plant Barry is virtually surrounded by the Mobile River 25 miles upstream from where it enters the bay. Baykeeper officials say they worry that the earthen dams holding back the river could be breached.
Read more.

For more on coal ash concerns:

An Alabama Scenario: Hurricane Florence Raises Questions About Coal Ash and Mobile Bay.

Same Week: Alabama Power Seeks Authority for Harris Dam on Tallapoosa as It Loses License for Seven Dams on Coosa River

Alabama Power Company is beginning efforts to get a new license for its R.L. Harris hydroelectric dam on the Tallapoosa River.

The long process involving the Tallapoosa River dam starts as the company faces an unfamiliar road elsewhere. A court decision took away its 2013 license to operate seven Coosa River dams on Aug. 27.

Never before has a federal dam license been vacated by a court after it has been in service for years. The company is awaiting direction from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on how to proceed.

Alabama Power’s license for the Harris hydroelectric dam on the Tallapoosa expires in 2023.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, known as FERC, this week led the first public meetings in the complicated, years-long process toward approval for the Harris Dam. Alabama Power has set up a website, containing documents, meeting dates and other information on the project.

Alabama Power spokesman Michael Szjnaderman said the Coosa finding isn’t expected to affect the Harris Dam. “Every relicensing and license application is different and is determined on its own merit,” he said. Read more.

Read more about the court’s decision:

Coosa River Gets Help: Federal Court Overturns Alabama Power’s License to Operate 7 Dams, Orders New Look at Waterway’s Environment

Alabama Power Awaiting Federal Guidance After Court Strips Its License to Operate 7 Coosa River Dams

Alabama Power Awaiting Federal Guidance After Court Strips Its License to Operate 7 Coosa River Dams

It’s now official. Monday, Alabama Power Co.’s license to operate its seven Coosa River dams was taken away under terms of a federal court order issued a month ago. The power company will now operate under its prior license.

A power company spokesperson said customers are not affected in any way by the legal issue and no operational changes will take place as it awaits direction from the federal agency that issued the license, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The unprecedented decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., was a surprise victory for environmentalists and is being followed closely by the hydropower-relicensing industry.

Read more about the court’s decision:

Coosa River Gets Help: Federal Court Overturns Alabama Power’s License to Operate 7 Dams, Orders New Look at Waterway’s Environment

Coal Ash Ponds Leach Toxins into Alabama Groundwater, Waterways, Analysis Finds. ADEM Fines Power Companies, but Route to Remedy Uncertain.

Significant levels of toxic materials are leaching into the state’s groundwater and waterways from the millions of cubic yards of coal ash stored in massive, unlined storage ponds adjacent to six electrical power generating plants, including plants in Shelby, Jefferson and Walker counties.

On Friday, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management proposed fines of $250,000 for each case. Five of the plants are owned by Alabama Power Company.

Groundwater tests were required of utilities by the Environmental Protection Agency last year, and the utilities’ analyses of results were announced Friday. A “statistically significant increase” over background levels of pollutants was found seeping into groundwater at each plant, the analyses found. The utilities were cited by ADEM for causing or allowing the unpermitted discharge of pollutants from the power plants to “waters of the state.”

Alabama Power spokeswoman Amoi Geter said, “We have taken reasonable and responsible actions at every step of the way and do not believe the amount of the penalty is warranted.” Read more.