Readily available, scalable RNG provides practical emissions reduction solution
ATHENS, Tenn. – May 5, 2021 – Southern Company Gas announced that it has taken ownership of the Meadow Branch Landfill Methane Recovery Facility, the renewable natural gas facility located at the Meadow Branch Landfill in Athens, Tenn., from sister company PowerSecure. The facility is now operated by Southern Company Gas Renewables, a new subsidiary dedicated to growing Southern Company Gas’ ability to provide customers with sustainable fuels. The company is pursuing RNG as part of Southern Company’s goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions enterprise-wide by 2050 and its strategy to increase access to clean, safe, reliable and affordable fuel for customers.
“This is another important step toward realizing our vision for a sustainable energy future,” said Southern Company Gas Executive Vice President of External Affairs and Chief Public and External Affairs Officer Bryan Batson, who provides oversight of the new subsidiary. “Developing RNG to sell to customers is a practical, cost-effective method for reducing GHG emissions.”
The RNG facility at Meadow Branch captures gas produced by the landfill and upgrades it to pipeline–quality gas that can be used by any natural gas appliance or other end-user, creating a simple and cost-effective solution for customers. In 2020, the facility produced 340,000 MMBtu of RNG, enough to serve about 3,400 homes for a year. Using this instead of geologic gas avoids nearly 18,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide in a year. It would require 22,000 acres of U.S. forest to abate that much carbon dioxide over the same period.
“The experience we gain operating the Meadow Branch RNG plant will give us greater ability to develop utility–owned RNG facilities throughout our footprint, helping to enable each of our subsidiaries to meet state and regional climate goals,” said Batson. “We believe RNG offers an economical path forward for reducing emissions while supporting local development and job creation.”
Assuming control of the RNG plant also enables Southern Company Gas Renewables to potentially provide RNG directly to Southern Company Gas subsidiaries’ residential, business and retail customers, as well as to Southern Company Gas’ own automotive fleet. Additionally, it may provide customers with savings, compared to purchasing RNG at market costs.
RNG and its benefits
RNG is a sustainable gas produced from naturally occurring methane emitted from sources such as landfill, agricultural or food waste sites. RNG repurposes organic waste, making it carbon–neutral when used.
RNG facilities that capture methane from landfills such as the Meadow Branch RNG facility have cross-sector environmental benefits, impacting GHG emissions from both the waste management and natural gas industries. RNG’s other benefits include:
- Emissions Abatement: Many RNG projects are carbon-negative, meaning they remove more GHG emissions from the environment than they produce.
- Waste Reduction: According to the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas, solid waste is expected to grow nearly 70% by 2050. RNG can be part of a practical, near-term solution to address this growing problem, converting that waste into fuel.
- Abundance: A recent assessment by the American Gas Foundation estimated enough RNG could be produced to meet nearly all the residential natural gas demand in the United States.
- Resiliency: RNG can be locally derived, promoting energy resilience and fuel diversity while increasing the existing natural gas system’s flexibility and utilization.
Southern Company Gas’ commitment to net–zero
Southern Company Gas Renewables and its control of the Meadow Branch RNG facility are among many initiatives underway at Southern Company Gas to support global efforts to reach net–zero GHG emissions and to help customers looking to reduce their personal carbon footprint.
The company is an active participant in Our Nation’s Energy (ONE) Future, an industrywide effort to reduce methane emissions across the natural gas value chain to 1% or less by 2025. Earlier this year, Southern Company Gas and its parent company also announced its participation in a collaborative effort with six national laboratories and more than 20 partners from industry and academia addressing the technical barriers to blending hydrogen into natural gas infrastructure.
In 2019, Southern Company Gas subsidiary Georgia Natural Gas launched Greener Life, which makes it easy and affordable for customers to make their natural gas use carbon–neutral by taking care of purchasing and retiring carbon offsets on their behalf. Through the first quarter of this year, Greener Life has helped Georgians retire nearly 30 million pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent. In addition, Southern Company Gas’ local distribution companies offer energy efficiency programs and other resources empowering customers to meet their sustainability goals.
About Southern Company Gas Renewables
Southern Company Gas Renewables is a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company Gas. It is dedicated to growing the Southern Company Gas family of companies’ ability to provide customers with sustainable fuels.
About Southern Company Gas
Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.3 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with approximately 666,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines, asset management for natural gas wholesale customers and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit southerncompanygas.com.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements:
Certain information contained in this release is forward-looking information based on current expectations and plans that involve risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking information includes, among other things, statements concerning future development of facilities and future emissions reduction goals. Southern Company Gas cautions that there are certain factors that can cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of Southern Company Gas; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such suggested results will be realized. The following factors, in addition to those discussed in Southern Company Gas’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2020, Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2021 and subsequent securities filings, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: the impact of recent and future federal and state regulatory changes, as well as changes in application of existing laws and regulations; available sources and costs of natural gas and other fuels; the ability to complete necessary or desirable pipeline expansion or infrastructure projects, limits on pipeline capacity and operational interruptions to natural gas distribution and transmission activities; transmission constraints; effects of inflation; the ability to control costs and avoid cost and schedule overruns during the development, construction and operation of facilities or other projects; the ability to construct facilities in accordance with the requirements of permits and licenses, to satisfy any environmental performance standards and the requirements of tax credits and other incentives and to integrate facilities into the Southern Company system upon completion of construction; advances in technology, including the pace and extent of development of low- to no-carbon energy technologies and negative carbon concepts; performance of counterparties under ongoing renewable energy partnerships and development agreements; state and federal rate regulations and the impact of pending and future rate cases and negotiations; and the ability to successfully operate the electric utilities’ generating, transmission and distribution facilities and Southern Company Gas’ natural gas distribution and storage facilities and the successful performance of necessary corporate functions. Southern Company Gas expressly disclaims any obligation to update any forward‐looking information.
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