Alabama Power's expanding fiber network supports resilience, and more - Alabama NewsCenter

Alabama Power’s expanding fiber network supports resilience, and more – Alabama NewsCenter

Alabama Power Recently released in the second year Company Sustainability ReportOutline The company’s continuous progress in supporting the needs of customers and the communities it serves. The 2021 Report provides a broad summary of the company’s accomplishments over the past year, based on the five pillars of sustainability at Alabama Power: People, Environment, Social Responsibility, Governance and Innovation.

“Alabama Power is constantly adapting to meet the challenges and opportunities of our times, while upholding our founding commitment to being of service to the nation. As our story evolves, so does the way we participate,” said Stephanie Cooper, Vice President of Corporate Sustainability.

This month, Alabama NewsCenter shares five stories from the report, highlighting the company’s five pillars of sustainability. For our latest story we focus on innovation:

Alabama Power Corporation 2021 Sustainability Report: Innovation From Alabama News Center on me vimeo.

Fiber is essential to the future sustainability of our electrical system – it makes the grid smarter and more resilient than ever before. Through our network modernization program, we have added 1,200 miles of fiber cable since 2017 with plans to add more.

Infrastructure is one of our strengths in making and transmitting electricity – safely and reliably – to our customers. Tommy House, Connectivity Project Manager at Power Delivery explained: “The optical fibers we use provide the latest connectivity capabilities for our electrical system. It allows us to reduce customer service outages and, in many cases, reduce the time customers are affected.”

In the context of expanding our fiber and wireless network, employees designed a partnership with carriers to provide broadband Internet service through our excess fiber capacity leases. Lawmakers and regulators have facilitated this new use of our infrastructure to reach rural communities deeper – and help bridge the digital divide.

“Because we’re already putting the fibers for the company’s use, we’re using the same route to provide broadband and high-speed connectivity to these rural areas,” said project supervisor David Skoglund.

In 2021, we began laying cable from Evergreen in southwest Alabama, further west to Jackson, and then south to Mobile. When completed, the project, which will eventually connect Plant Farley in southeast Alabama to Plant Barry in the southwest corner of the state, will cover approximately 280 miles and have the potential to provide broadband service to communities where there are few options today.

A crew of personnel and contractors at Alabama Power are installing an underground fiber optic technology transmission channel that will help expand broadband access to rural Alabama. (Michael Znaderman/Alabama News Center)

The goal is to increase internet availability and improve working speeds, which are vital to staying connected in today’s world. The pandemic has shown how important this service is. In education, for example, the increased use of live streaming lessons and online video instruction has led to increased speed and high-quality Internet connections a necessity for school systems.

Broadband also affects the viability of economic development projects across the state. Industries looking to expand or relocate need to know that their operations will have sufficient and reliable access to the Internet. Not so long ago, the primary factors for the relocation or growth of businesses were the right location and the right workforce.

“Alabama has always had these things,” said George Stegal, director of communications at Alabama Power. “But today, more emphasis is being placed on reliable communication. Things like sending and receiving huge files, 3D printing, and staying in touch with offices, customers, and other suppliers are all important considerations for businesses of all sizes in all industries.”

Once the underground cable is in place, the soil is replaced and compacted and the lawn re-seeding. “Before we move out of any construction site, we make sure that these native herbs have taken root and are starting to grow,” said Skoglund.

“Sustainability is important in all aspects of our business, particularly on projects like this,” House said. “We maintain economic growth, education, and network resilience and reliability with each individual building effort.

“We are building the network of the future that will allow us to adapt and stay current with network technologies for many years to come.”

This story originally appeared in the Alabama Power 2021 Sustainability Report, released on Earth Day 2022. Learn more at www.poweringsustainability.com.

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