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Photo by Hal Yeager



Southern Company 101 CEO Fanning tries hand as ‘professor’ at Samford

Photos by Hal Yeager

Executive Vice President Zeke Smith chats with Fanning.

Southern Company CEO Fanning spoke at Birmingham school.


outhern Company President, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tom Fanning told a Samford University audience in Birmingham it is vital for the U.S. to get energy policy right. “The economy is getting more electrified,” he said. “What we do matters. It’s about driving the economy. It’s about allowing people a chance to improve their lives. Everything we do is fundamental to the families we serve.” Fanning spoke to business students, faculty and community leaders gathered for Samford’s Brock School of Business Entrepreneurship Speaker Series. He said that, just like wise investors manage risk by maintaining a diverse stock portfolio, a similar policy is needed on the federal level when it comes to energy policy. “The United States is blessed with a series of energy resources and we have to take advantage Samford business students of them all.” listened to presentation. Fanning said Southern Company is focused on developing the full portfolio of energy resources, including new nuclear, 21st century coal, natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency. Energy innovation is another important part of the company’s strategy, Fanning said. He noted that Alabama and Alabama Power are at the center of some of the most important research and development efforts related to finding a way forward for coal, an abundant and affordable domestic energy resource. For example, Plant Barry is the site of Southern Company’s successful carbon capture research project – the world’s largest at an existing coal-fired power plant – working in partnership with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Southern Company also manages the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Carbon Capture Center in Wilsonville, adjacent to Plant Gaston, where researchers are testing the next generation of technologies to capture carbon dioxide emissions.


Fanning praised Alabama Power’s efforts related to renewables, including its recent power purchase agreements for energy generated from Midwest wind farms. Last year, Alabama Power began receiving energy from a wind farm in Oklahoma, with a second wind project, in Kansas, expected to begin delivering energy later this year. Combined, the two projects are expected to provide up to 404 megawatts – enough to power the equivalent of 115,000 homes – at a price that is beneficial for Alabama Power customers. In all, Alabama Power has power purchase agreements and generation facilities producing up to 2,000 megawatts of energy from wind, biomass and hydro generation. Fanning said Southern Company and Alabama Power continue to be successful, after more than a century in business, because they put customers “at the center of everything we do.” He said a culture of service and a commitment to making communities better continue to consistently deliver customer value. Fanning told the Samford audience a commitment to diversity drives success at Alabama Power and across Southern Company, explaining diversity means more than race and gender. “What we want is diversity of judgment, experience and skill set,” he said. “The more diverse our experiences, the better off we are going to be serving you all and everyone we touch.” Brock School of Business Dean Howard Finch praised Fanning’s remarks. “Samford University has the responsibility to bring top leaders to campus who are involved in communities, to make them better as well as the lives of the people who live there better. As a business school, it is our responsibility to bring great business leaders to our campus for our students to learn from. Today, I am happy to say, we got two for one.” By Michael Sznajderman


New Power Delivery system improves reliability, crew safety hanks to Alabama Power’s new Integrated Distribution Management System (IDMS), Clint Owens’ job as an Operations supervisor is being enhanced through essential system information in one user platform and reduced chances for human error. The IDMS computer application has been implemented by all five Distribution Operation Centers (DOCs). Heralded by Power Delivery (PD)-Operations employees as “better than sliced bread,” IDMS has rapidly been accepted throughout Distribution. “I knew right away that IDMS would benefit us as system operators,” said Owens, who has worked in Distribution for 16 of his 26 years at Alabama Power. The program replaces “legacy” tools for analyzing the grid – Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), the Distribution Outage Evaluation System (DOES), and an electronic map board (EMB) and switching management system – with a single platform. When all phases of IDMS are deployed, the tools will be in one application, with improved functions and one view. Phase II will integrate the outage management functions into IDMS. Distribution plans to test that piece with the existing DOES system throughout hurricane season. If testing goes as planned, Distribution will use this IDMS component in the fall. Using IDMS, DOC operators quickly get a full view of the distribution grid, without having to use different workstations, keyboards and commands. Owens said IDMS provides multiple benefits. It greatly increases efficiencies for the DOCs, which remotely monitor and control about 850 substations integral to supplying electricity to 1.4 million customers. “We saw what IDMS would do and we knew it would make us more productive,” Owens said. “IDMS is expected to be a major component of our efforts to maintain positive control of the distribution system in each DOC. The application will allow us to quickly identify outages and system conditions. It will streamline the switching process by eliminating handwritten switching orders, and limit the possibility of switching errors by checking the switching order for

Photo by Bill Snow


Owens works at new DOC control system. accuracy before issuing it to field personnel.” When fully implemented, IDMS will provide current system outage information, highlight faults and identify potential overloading, trouble areas and other conditions. A “customer dashboard” will provide real-time notification of outages, including which customers are without power, crews that are restoring power and estimated restoration times. IDMS got its start in 2006, when Alabama Power won a Department of Energy (DOE) grant to investigate the future of electric power grid operations. The company tapped Distribution Systems Management Manager Bill Mintz to lead the project. “This will be a good tool for our Customer Service, Power Delivery personnel and Marketing personnel to enable them to provide timely and accurate information to our customers regarding outages,” Mintz said. Mintz’s goal was to pursue advances to aid DOC operators and be able to operate the distribution grid more efficiently. The initial phase was to prove the three mission-critical applications could be integrated to enhance grid operations. Implementation began in June 2009. Mintz said the four Southern operating companies together determined IDMS design requirements, with the DOE providing funding throughout the project. IDMS aligns with DOE’s goals of improving the operations and efficiencies of the nation’s distribution grid infrastructure. “This project has been a tremendous, successful effort by

Alabama Power employees in Power Delivery and Information Technology, as well as the DOE, Alstom Grid and all of our operating companies. I’m very proud of our team and their accomplishments,” Mintz said. Alabama Power is leading the system in using IDMS. To prepare for rollout, from July to September 2012, the project team trained Alabama Power’s operators and operator assistants in a unique simulator. Power Delivery Vice President Danny Glover said he is proud of Alabama Power’s contributions in developing and implementing IDMS. “This technology is a model that has the ability to improve the operations of electric utilities in the U.S. and beyond,” Glover said. “The future of Distribution operations is exciting. IDMS will help improve efficiencies for electric service and help us continue to provide top reliability while safeguarding our employees who make it possible.” By Donna Cope



Roberts Rules

Miller employee holds company work record after nearly 50 years


Photos by Bill Snow

Plant Miller Warehouseman Roberts is known as ‘Top Cat.’

few celebrities are so well known their first 50-year service mark, Roberts has no intention of names bring instant recognition: Madonna or leaving Alabama Power. Beyonce, for instance. Across the Alabama Power “Everyone asks me all the time when I’m going electric system, employees know they can call to retire,” Roberts said. “I have a few more aches “Top Cat” for assistance at Miller Steam Plant’s and pains than I used to, but why quit now? I enjoy Warehouse. working now more than I ever did.” The moniker doesn’t bother Generation’s Tommy Roberts said working is his hobby. When he’s not Charles Roberts, who, with 49 years of service, at Plant Miller, he’s busy tending his 130-acre family owns Alabama Power’s longest work record. When farm in the Curry community, about 10 miles north he started at the company, the “Top Cat” cartoon – of Jasper. The only time Roberts has been away was whose main character is called T.C. – was popular. when he worked at Plant Greene County and Jordan “People all over the system know me because of Dam. my initials,” Roberts said. “They hung the nickname He joins six generations of Robertses in tilling ‘T.C.,’ or ‘Top Cat,’ on me. I never minded it.” the rich farmland, which is mostly pasture. Roberts Roberts has seen many changes during his journey plants hay for his 40 cattle and a saddle horse, with the company, and though he will be 71 in keeping the fields neatly cut. This past year, Roberts July, he has no plans of retiring. He was hired in 1964, not long after graduating from Calhoun Community College with a twoyear electrical degree. Working as a laborer at Smith Dam, within a month, Roberts said, then-supervisor Grady Lewis urged Roberts to apply for higher positions. “Bid on those jobs, I will recommend you,” Lewis told the young Roberts. Within a month, Roberts was stationed at Plant Greene County as a lab helper. In January 1967, he became an assistant operator at Jordan Dam, where he performed switching operations, took plant readings and worked with dispatchers. He stayed in that job two years before moving to Plant Gorgas as assistant turbine operator. As a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Roberts later “rolled” into a job as unit 10 switchboard operator. In 1978, Roberts began working for company in 1964. he left Gorgas for a switching position at Plant Miller, where he planted two cornfields, and stored the corn for assisted in placing all four Miller units online. the horse and use in hunting. His son, Greg, and In 1995, Generation phased out switchboard jobs. grandchildren, Kayla, Zac and Gage, enjoy taking Roberts was certified as a warehouseman and – the care of the land and animals. same year he received his 30-year watch – took that Roberts said he will “keep on keeping on” at the position at Miller. warehouse and on the farm. “For years, I worked rotating shifts,” Roberts said. “I’ve been at Miller 35 years, and it’s been a real “But in this job, I moved in as the senior man, with good job,” Roberts said. “I’m planning on staying.” weekends off. I’ve always said this job is one of the best things that ever happened to me.” By Donna Cope While Roberts enjoys the camaraderie and busy routine of working at Miller Warehouse, which is larger than a football field, he keeps his attention on the job. “We all stay focused because we do a lot,” Roberts said. “Safety is No. 1 with everything we do. We have some heavy lifting, and we’ve got trucks moving through for shipping and receiving, so it’s a really busy place. If we have to get on a picker or forklift, we can call on our compadres for help. That makes working here enjoyable.” Being healthy and happy in the workplace, with less than a year and a half to go before he reaches the



Plant Barry wood chip pond uses bacteria to break down chemicals.

Barry research receives 2013 top industry award S

ometimes, going back to the basics is the best way to get ahead. At least that is Southeastern Electric Exchange‘s (SEE) opinion of Alabama Power’s ongoing research by the Environmental Affairs compliance research group at Plant Barry. The efforts at Barry earned the 2013 SEE Chairman Award – the organization’s highest annual honor – recognizing the company’s innovation and industry leadership for research in eliminating mercury and selenium from Plant Barry exhaust. “This is a special award to honor the one project considered the ‘Best of the Best,’” said SEE Assistant Director Scott Smith. “This award is designated by the conference chairman and honors the project deemed most outstanding of all the category winners.” The water treatment project was selected from the 10 category winners for the 2013 SEE Industry Excellence Award, which will be presented at the Annual Conference and Trade Show in June, said Smith. “Every day our employees look for cost-effective ways to improve our environmental performance,” said Matt Bowden, Environmental Affairs vice president. “This award is a great highlight of one of their many efforts.” The Barry treatment system removes mercury and selenium from “scrubber” water using bacteria to break down chemical bonds as water filters through a series of half-acre holding ponds. The system removes metals while limiting costs associated with comparable – and more complicated – systems by decreasing the use of chemicals, eliminating the need for mechanical equipment and reducing staff needs for operations and maintenance. “This is an offshoot technology we developed at Plant Gorgas, a constructed wetland that breaks metal compounds into basic elements and removes them from water as it moves through

Environmental Affairs Specialist Larry Browning monitors half-acre holding pond. the system,” said Bill Garrett, Environmental Affairs supervisor. Garrett said the Environmental Affairs compliance studies team looks to develop technology that proactively reduces concentrations of chemicals and compounds regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. “There are a lot of people involved in developing these technologies,” Garrett said. “On this project, we had people from the lab, plant operational support, engineering analysis and construction all working to make sure this project fit into existing plant operations. That is really what makes a project like this feasible and a big part of the recognition from SEE.” SEE is a nonprofit trade association founded in 1933 of more than 60 investor-owned electric utility companies. Smith

said the SEE mission is to promote common interests of members; develop and enhance human, operational and technical resources; and coordinate storm restoration services. By Brandon Glover



Mobile employee’s been working on railroad cars T

his first run under the watchful eye of an experienced operator. Through NARCOA, Thompson and his wife, Maria, Hillcrest Business Office supervisor, have taken many one- to two-day excursions across the Southeast in their 1957 two-seater railcar, which he purchased from Norfolk Southern Railroad and restored four years ago. Thompson and his wife, who earned her operator license last year, have traveled on the rails through North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Photos by Dan Anderson

Mobile Apprentice Cable Splicer Thompson enjoys hobby.

he son of a train engineer, Chris Thompson’s passion for restoring old motorcars and riding the rails comes naturally. “To me, there’s nothing like starting out with a piece of junk, restoring it and then taking it out on the railroad for the first time,” said Thompson, apprentice cable splicer, Mobile-Michigan Avenue Complex. “The only problem is when you finish one railcar, you want another one.” For the past 17 years, Thompson has been overhauling and returning old rail motorcars to their original glory. Before they were retired in the mid-1980s, the cars transported employees who maintained and repaired thousands of miles of tracks that crossed the United States and Canada. Although they only traveled up to 35 miles per hour, the vehicles were known as speeders because they were much faster than the manually powered pump-cars they replaced. Thompson’s current project is a 1967 Fairmont Brothers Railway Motors model originally used by Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad. Working in his garage, Thompson has rebuilt the motor, added a new frame and windshield and painted the body. After he installs seats, signal lights, a beacon and fire extinguisher, the car will be ready for the rails, he said. “Finding the parts is like a quest,” said Thompson. “It’s surprising what people will sell on the Internet. I’ve also acquired enough tools to make some of my own parts and taken parts from several old railcars I have in my backyard.” Before he begins rebuilding a railcar, Thompson researches its history. “I like to get the cars back to the way they looked when the railroad had them,” said Thompson, noting he returns the cars to their original color and adds the logo of the particular railroad that owned them. He bought the Fairmont Brothers Thompson is working on model from a 1967 Fairmont Brothers. retired railroad employee in Arkansas about a year ago. Thompson already has another railcar waiting for restoration. Thompson’s interest in his hobby began when he saw several railcars running on a track at a festival in Atmore in the mid-1990s. Soon afterward, he bought two rusted speeders, restored them and sold them to CSX Railroad to maintain track in Georgia. With a yearning to get in the driver’s seat, Thompson joined the North American Railcar Operators Association (NARCOA). To receive his railcar operator license, Thompson had to pass a test on safety procedures and operations. He completed


Thompson has restored motorcars for 17 years. Like Alabama Power, the railroad makes safety a top priority, Thompson said. All operators are required to wear a safety vest and high-topped shoes to protect their ankles from injury while walking on the tracks. Before the start of every excursion, a railroad representative outlines safety procedures and provides information such as the radio frequency operators should use, and the location of bridges and highway crossings. “Even though we’re out there having fun, we’re in an industrial environment. The railroad is allowing us to be there, so we have to follow all the rules,” Thompson said. The Thompsons are already looking forward to their next trip – a two-day run through the Great Smoky Mountains in June. “We meet people from all walks of life,” Thompson said of the excursions. “The scenery is really pretty,” he said. “Railroads go right through the middle of towns, through neighborhoods and through the countryside. You see a view most people don’t get to see.” For a look at the Thompsons’ excursions, go to his YouTube channel at CBT1960. By Carla Davis


AUMazing wellness center S

Although there are many cardio exercise equipment, tudents at Auburn University facets to the facility, AUM is including treadmills, upright and at Montgomery (AUM) looking ahead to the future, recumbent bicycles, stair-steppers asked for it, and they got it. Veres said. The Alabama Power and elliptical machines. There is a The university recently added a Foundation grant is supporting juice bar where students can relax state-of-the-art wellness center a quasi-endowment, which will after a workout and purchase a to improve health and physical generate funding for repairs in fruit drink or healthy snack. fitness as well as increase the coming years. The fund will also The center is headquarters sense of community on campus. “The cool thing is the whole project was the result of a studentled initiative,” said AUM Chancellor John Veres. “Representatives from our Student Government Association approached me in 2008 expressing a desire for a wellness center where they could work out as well as meet their friends and have fun.” Students approved increasing their activity fees to help fund the New 73,000-square-foot building serves 5,000 students and community. effort. They took part in focus groups during help pay for the next phase of to the Physical Education and the planning stages of the construction, which will include Exercise Science departments. facility, giving them a voice in multiuse courts for badminton, This portion of the center houses the features included in the new tennis and other sports. two classrooms, research labs and center. “We are not only excited the intramural sports office. As part of its support of to receive this gift from the “The center provides a great education and its efforts to Alabama Power Foundation, but opportunity for our exercise promote health and wellness, we’re pleased that your company science students to get hands-on the Alabama Power Foundation has endorsed our institution,” experience with customers by partnered with AUM and its Veres said. “As our student leading Zumba, yoga, Pilates and students by providing a grant to population grows, we want to other fitness classes. We also get ensure the ongoing growth of make sure there’s room for all our sports management students the center. AUM opened in 1969 of them to enjoy the wellness involved in the operations of the and currently has about 4,225 center. The funding we have center and its programs,” Veres undergraduate and 764 graduate received from the Alabama said. students. Power Foundation will help us as “This is a win-win for us and “At its core, the foundation’s we expand to meet those needs.” the students,” he said. “It not mission is to help make only gives them experience that Alabama a better place to live,” By Carla Davis will help prepare them for their said Southern Division Vice careers, but it provides us with President Leslie Sanders, who people working at the center who presented the grant to AUM. are passionate about fitness and “I think this wellness center healthy living.” will accomplish that goal. The center will not only help improve the health and well-being of students, alumni and faculty, but it will be an effective recruitment tool for the university because of its convenient location.” Prominently situated at the campus entrance, the center opened its doors on Aug. 13, Swimming pool is popular feature. 2012, at the start of the fall In-depth research is being semester. conducted on topics such as With a sleek, modern design, range of motion, hydrostatic the 73,000-square-foot, weigh-ins, oxygen consumption two-story building is packed and the use of X-rays to measure with recreational and fitness body components. equipment. It features a pool, “The center offers a blend of two multipurpose basketball academic and applied learning, courts, a zip line, a weight room, as well as fun for students who a track and a rock-climbing wall, can just go in and shoot hoops with beginner, intermediate and or swim when they feel like it,” advanced levels. Veres said. The center has the latest Photos by Bill Snow

Sanders and Veres with Louis Thornton, right, director of AUM Wellness Center.

Foundation grant boosts health, fitness of students


Powergrams is published biweekly by Alabama Power for its employees, retirees and friends. Please report address changes by calling the editor.

Retirees Kenneth Lamar Allums Jr. Transmission control center supervisor, Alabama Control Center – Corporate Headquarters Service: 37 years Clifton Lebarron Bennett Security team leader, Barry Steam Plant Service: 31 years, four months Roy Richard Browder Jr. Coordinator – engineer, Corporate Headquarters Service: 40 years, seven months

Harold Delona Brown Equipment operator, Barry Steam Plant Service: 38 years, 10 months Ernest Eugene Curtis Materialman, Gaston Steam Plant Service: 46 years, three months Paula Sue Fordham Customer service representative, West Jefferson Service: 29 years, one month

Charles Ernest Freeman Planning team leader, Barry Steam Plant Service: 41 years, six months

Jon Kyle Gilmer Hydro journeyman, Harris Dam Service: 37 years, two months

Johnny Earl Glass Utility fleet technician, General Services Complex – General Garage Service: 21 years, eight months Sylvia Renee Harrison Customer service representative, Wetumpka Office Service: 22 years, six months Belenda Yolande Long Distribution specialist, Birmingham Division Service: 40 years, eight months

Cedric Lonnie Malone Jr. Local operations lineman, Schillingers Road Crew Headquarters Service: 36 years, six months

Priscilla Ann Martin Training Center assistant, General Services Complex – Training Center Service: 43 years, eight months

William Mason Electrical and Wiring journeyman, Substation maintenance Headquarters – 13th Street Service: 40 years, seven months Donald Lee Morris Hydro journeyman, Logan Martin Dam Service: 38 years, 11 months

Charles Edward Murray Electrical and instrumentation journeyman, Gorgas Steam Plant Service: 35 years, four months

Alvin Theophilus Newton Boiler operator, Powell Avenue Operations Service: 30 years, one month Arnold Russell Osborne Meter superintendent, Mobile-Michigan Avenue Complex Service: 44 years, eight months Richard R. Perry Maintenance specialist, Gaston Steam Plant Service: 37 years, eight months



Harold Andrew Short Jr. Operations team leader, Miller Steam Plant Service: 32 years, two months Phillip Wayne Speaks Operations supervisor, Southern Division Office Service: 35 years, one month Donald Luther Williams Power delivery specialist, General Services Complex Service: 42 years Fred Wolfe Compliance specialist, Gadsden Steam Plant Service: 24 years, two months.

Send us your photo holding Powergrams in an exotic locale.

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POWERGRAMS staff: Editor: Chuck Chandler 205-257-3651

Assistant editors: Donna Cope and Carla Davis

Photo editor: Bill Snow

Art director: Jay Parker

Thumbs Up: 205-257-1433

Western Division Central Operations has been awarded the Target Zero Silver Award for surpassing a year without a recordable injury or preventable vehicle accident. The group consists of Tuscaloosa Engineering employees, in top photo, Tuscaloosa local operations linemen, middle, and Centreville local operations linemen, bottom photo.

PoweGrams, March 4, 2013  

Generation employee Tommy Charles Roberts, with 49 years of service, owns Alabama Power's longest work record. Read this and more in the lat...

PoweGrams, March 4, 2013  

Generation employee Tommy Charles Roberts, with 49 years of service, owns Alabama Power's longest work record. Read this and more in the lat...