Georgia Power to set up Water Research Center at Plant Bowen

By Maria Saporta

Georgia Power, one of the biggest water users in the state, announced today that it is creating a Water Research Center at its Plant Bowen near Cartersville.

The center will be an innovative research facility to develop and test different water conservation technologies in an effort to improve water efficiency by studying withdrawal, consumption and recycling throughout the power generation process.

Paul Bowers, Georgia Power’s president and CEO, said the center will seek ways to reduce the demand for water through new technologies.

“We are testing water technologies that will reduce the water intake at our plants,” Bowers said, adding that Georgia Power and its parent — the Southern Co. — has a history of conducting research at plants throughout its system on how to reduce carbon emissions and mercury in the energy process.

The center is a collaboration between Georgia Power and the Electric Power Research Institute, which will bring a broader industry perspective and guidance to the project.

The Water Research Center is expected to be fully operational by August 2012, and it will have seven separate research focus areas — moisture recovery, cooling tower and advanced cooling systems, zero liquid discharge options, low volume wastewater treatment, solid waste landfill water management, carbon technology water issues as well as water modeling, monitoring and best management practices.

“This is really a first of its kind research on water in the power industry,” Bowers said. “When we were looking at water, the best place to do it was in Georgia. Plant Bowen is one of our largest plants. There are a lot of technologies that we will be evaluating as part of this.”

The Water Research Center is an extension of a pilot project that began in May 2010 at Plant Bowen aimed at identifying opportunities to reduce Georgia Power’s water use. Thanks to the pilot project, technology already has been implemented to reduce water withdrawals for the plant’s scrubber process, an environmental control that reduces sulfur dioxide emissions.

The center will be operated by the Southern Research Institute and also could become a place to educate students and community leaders about the importance of water conservation.

Georgia Power, Southern Co.’s largest subsidiary, serves 2.3 million customers in all but four of Georgia’s 159 counties.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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