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Alabama Power closing Gorgas coal-fired power plant

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Power Co. announced Wednesday that it is shuttering a coal-fired power plant in central Alabama, a decision the company blamed on federal environmental regulations.

The Gorgas plant northwest of Birmingham will close April 15, a company spokesman said.

Senior Vice President Jim Heilbron blamed government regulations for the handling of coal ash and wastewater as the main reasons behind the decision to close the plant. The company said it would cost about $300 million to comply with environmental requirements and continue to operate Gorgas’ three coal-fired generating units. Gorgas first opened in 1917 and is Alabama Power’s oldest fossil fuel plant.

“We are also concerned that more regulations are on the horizon that could require additional, costly expenditures at the plant,” Senior Vice President Jim Heilbron said in a statement.

The utility said closing the plant will not affect its ability to provide service to its customers.

There are about 180 workers employed at the Gorgas plant. Power company spokesman Michael Sznajderman said no lay-offs are expected. He said some employees will stay at the plant during the closure process and beyond since the ash pond closure is expected to take several years. Others are being offered positions at other plants or company facilities, he said.

The closing follows an industry trend of retiring coal-fired units in favor of cleaner, cheaper energy sources.
Alabama Power has reduced the number of coal-fired units from 23 to 10, company said. The number will drop to seven when Gorgas closes this spring.

The Tennessee Valley Authority last week voted to close a coal-fired power plant in Kentucky despite pleas from President Donald Trump and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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