BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Power Co. said Friday it will reduce or end coal use at three generating plants because of federal environmental rules as it spends $1 billion to meet new air emission rules.
The utility said it will close two coal-fired generating units at Plant Gorgas in Walker County northwest of Birmingham. It also will eliminate coal as a fuel and switch to natural gas for fuel at three Plant Barry units near Mobile.
At the Greene County plant west of Tuscaloosa, Alabama Power said it would reduce the workforce by about half as the switch is made from coal to gas.
About 60 jobs will reportedly be affected in Greene County, but the utility said cuts will come from transfers and attrition, not layoffs.
The changes are supposed to be finished by 2016.
In a statement, Alabama Power vice president Matt Bowden said federal rules were forcing the utility to change the way it generate electricity.
"They are putting new restrictions on our ability to provide our customers with the energy they need in a cost-effective manner," he said in a statement.
The announcement came just days after hearings on the Obama administration's plan to reduce carbon emissions as part of its effort to curb global warming, and Republican utility regulators who support the coal industry criticized federal officials for forcing change.
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