Gorgas Steam Plant

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Gorgas Steam Plant is a coal-fired power station owned and operated by Southern Company near Parrish, Alabama.

The coal plant is scheduled for retirement in April 2019.[1] According to AL.com, Alabama Power customers will be repaying about US$740 million in costs related to the plant long after it closes, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, coming out to about US$500 for each customer.[2]


The undated satellite photo below shows the power station in Parrish.

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Coal retirements

Alabama Power spent more than US$400 million at the plant since 2010 on environmental upgrades, in efforts to keep the plant -- which has been in operation since 1917 -- in compliance with tightening federal environmental laws, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's MATS (mercury and air toxics standards) rule, meant to limit the amount of mercury emitted to the air at coal-fired power plants.[2]

In August 2014, Alabama Power announced that they will retire its two older 125 MW units at the Gorgas facility ahead of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards 2015 compliance date.[3] The two units were retired in 2015.[4]

For the remaining three units the company invested in a US$375 million “baghouse” at the plant, a massive system of air filters meant to remove mercury from the plant’s air emissions, which was scheduled for completion by the end of 2015.[2]

Despite the over US$700 million in pollution equipment investments, the last three coal units of the plant are planned for retirement in April 2019. Critics like the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said the power company was spending too much money on keeping old coal plants in operation rather than exploring alternatives.[2][1]

Plant Data

  • Owner: Alabama Power Company
  • Parent Company: Southern Company
  • Capacity: 1,417 MW
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 125 MW (1951), 125 MW (1952), 188 MW (1956), 190 MW (1958), 789 MW (1972)
  • Location: 460 Gorgas Rd., Parrish, AL 35580
  • GPS Coordinates: 33.645028, -87.19875 (exact)
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: East Brookwood Mine, Fleetwood Mine, Gibson Mine, L Massey Mine, Johnson Mine (Alabama Coal)[5]
  • Number of Employees:

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 8,141,864 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 81,268 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 13,076 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 1,004 lb.

Coal Waste Site

Gorgas ranked 7th on list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal waste

In January 2009, Sue Sturgis of the Institute of Southern Studies compiled a list of the 100 most polluting coal plants in the United States in terms of coal combustion waste (CCW) stored in surface impoundments like the one involved in the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill.[6] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[7]

Gorgas Steam Plant ranked number 7 on the list, with 2,888,290 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[6]

Carbon Capture and Storage research

In June 2010 the University of Alabama announced that it had "been awarded a U.S. Department of Energy grant totaling more than $4.85 million for a multidisciplinary project that will characterize geologic formations for carbon dioxide storage in Alabama". The project aims to "define an estimated 28 gigatons of carbon dioxide storage capacity underlying northwest Alabama". The funds originated from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. UA News reported that the project will "investigate the possibility for storage in an underground reservoir in the vicinity of the Alabama Power Gorgas Steam Plant. Successful completion of the project has the potential to extend the useful life of coal-fired power plants throughout the region. By investigating the geology near existing power plants, transportation costs to a carbon dioxide storage area would be greatly reduced." Other groups involved in the project are the Alabama Geological Survey and Rice University and industry co-funders are Alabama Power and Southern Company.[8]

Citizen Groups

See also Alabama and coal

Articles and Resources


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