PowerSouth Energy Cooperative and Mitsubishi Power have announced the start of operations at the new 693MW Lowman Energy Center (LEC) in Leroy, Alabama.

The LEC is an advanced combined-cycle power plant that began construction in 2020, replacing the currently retired 556MW Charles R Lowman coal-fired power plant.

The new plant is designed to support the emerging energy needs of PowerSouth members in Alabama and Northwest Florida using clean, more effective natural gas technology.

It will feature Mitsubishi’s advanced air-cooled gas turbine, the M501JAC, to produce adequate energy to supply 300,000 homes annually.

The M501JAC gas turbine is said to deliver superior operability, reducing start-up time and enabling long-term performance.

Mitsubishi Power has committed to providing service and maintenance for the turbine under a long-term service agreement.

PowerSouth president and CEO Gary Smith said: “At maximum output, the LEC offers 693 megawatts of reliable, around-the-clock power that will meet the needs of our distribution members for decades.

“That capability is important to our enduring mission of reliability and affordability which are being challenged by a rapid push toward intermittent, renewable generation. LEC is vital to our ability to keep the lights on.

“Technology in this industry is moving quickly, but we’re on the cutting edge of these advances. We’re proud to be in a position to use the latest high-efficiency technology from Mitsubishi Power to support our members and the people they serve.”

The LEC facility uses its surplus heat to boil water for the steam turbine unit, which allows the capture of the energy that would be wasted otherwise, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

LEC joins PowerSouth’s portfolio of facilities operating with natural gas, including the McIntosh Plant (McIntosh, Alabama), McWilliams, and Vann (both in Gantt, Alabama).

PowerSouth members are engaged in providing electric service to homes, businesses, and industries in 39 Alabama and 10 Florida counties.

Mitsubishi Power Americas president and CEO Bill Newsom said: “The Lowman Energy Center is yet another example of how cooperatives and utilities alike are recognizing the need for advanced, cleaner power generation technology to meet the needs of their members and customers.

“At Mitsubishi Power, we have the technology to support this transition and we thank PowerSouth for choosing us for this important project.”