Cooling tower to begin commercial operation in Georgia

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• Expected to improve Chattahoochee River quality

ATLANTA, GA, Feb. 21, 2008 -- Life in the Chattahoochee River will get a little bit cooler as the first of two cooling towers at Georgia Power's Plant McDonough in Smyrna begins commercial operation next week.

The $96 million cooling towers are the culmination of an agreement between Georgia Power and the state Environmental Protection Division in 2000 to lessen the environmental impact of discharged water into the Chattahoochee River.

"The towers will help to enrich the river's habitat by improving the dissolved oxygen levels in the river and by allowing the river to better assimilate the treated wastewater that is returned to the river from upstream sewage treatment plants," said Chuck Huling, Georgia Power's vice president of environmental affairs.

Each cooling tower is 550 feet long, 73 feet wide and 55 feet high. Each is designed to lower the temperature of 137,000 gallons of water per minute by 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

"Reducing the temperature of the water discharges will greatly reduce the plant's thermal effect on the river," said Tony Tramonte, Plant McDonough manager. "Making the decision to install these cooling towers was the right thing to do for the river and the region."

The second cooling tower will begin commercial operation in April.

Georgia Power has installed state-of-the-art plume abatement technology on the towers to reduce evaporational loss and minimize fogging and misting in nearby areas during cold, damp weather.

Plant McDonough consists of two coal-fired units, with a total generating capacity of 540 megawatts. In 2012, these units will be replaced with three natural gas combined-cycle units totaling 2,520 megawatts. The cooling towers being installed now will also be used for the new combined-cycle units.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation's largest generators of electricity.

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