Paul Bowers, president and CEO of Georgia Power, gave an update on how is company is doing during a recent meeting of the Dougherty Rotary Club. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks)
ALBANY — The president and CEO of Georgia Power, Paul Bowers, was recently in Albany to give an overview of how the company is doing and to give some insight as to what the future may hold.
In a recent address to the Dougherty Rotary Club, he showed a video recently viewed by the company’s stockholders on how the Georgia Power crews helped with restoring powers across the state during winter storms earlier this year.
During that storm, Georgia Power’s customers experienced more than 700,000 outages, the most in 20 years. There were about 700 poles replaced, 900 transformers repaired with more than 500,000 outages restored within 96 hours.
“There were 318,000 outages (during a storm) in 1991, and that took seven days,” Bowers said.
From an economic standpoint, Bowers said, there is reason for optimism. Production is up and 90,000 new jobs have been created in the company in recent years. He said there are roughly 10,000 new Georgia Power customers added annually.
“We are seeing things move in a positive direction,” the CEO said.
Bowers said the trend in the industry to to become less dependent on traditional energy sources.
“We have great potential to be energy-independent by 2020,” Bowers said.
Currently, he said, there are 65 nuclear plants worldwide being built, four of them in the United States. Natural gas and coal still account for a sizeable portion of energy use, with sights set on looking more into solar and wind power as energy sources. Recent rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency call for such standards as requiring coal plants to improve efficiency by 5 percent and gas plants to run at a 70 percent capacity.
There is also a state requirement to have 10 percent of energy come from renewables.
“(Our coal plants) were operating at 1 percent (improved efficiency) over the last several years, (and the gas plants) best was at 40 percent last year,” the CEO said.
Bowers said officials are also evaluating the use of wind power, which could potential include off-shore wind or transmission from the Midwest.
An essential piece in making some of these changes happen is an educated work force. Bowers hinted that some of the applications from potential Georgia Power employees are discouraging, with only half of the applicants able to pass the company’s basic employment test.
“We need to make sure we get children to the point they can get employed,” he said. “(We need to) give them a craft and skill.”