100 years of helping residents with more than power

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 9, 2006

DEMOPOLIS – It was December 4,1906, when captain William Lay created Alabama Power. Even though it’s not the exact date, the company and its employees are in the process of celebrating Alabama Power’s centennial anniversary.

To bring the celebration to Demopolis, Alabama Power’s executive vice president Alan Martin will speak to local business owners and Chamber members about the success of the company and what brought about its longevity.

“His talk will be more historical in nature. He will talk about the past 100 years, where the company is now and how the company has come from where it was,” Alabama Power spokeswoman Alice Gordon said. “He will cover all aspects including just about everything from the past to where they are now.”

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Initially Lay’s idea was to stop the majority of the state’s population from using candles or kerosene lanterns and improve American life with the miracle of electricity.

The company founder wanted to make sure every household could prepare meals without the use of open fires or wood stoves and make work possible without a heavy dependence on man, or animal, power.

However, after only six years of running the business that sent shockwaves throughout the state, Lay gave up his life of electric business to engineer James Mitchell and Thomas Martin, a lawyer from Montgomery.

“I now commit to you the good name and destiny of Alabama Power Company. May it be developed for the service of Alabama,” history quotes Lay as saying during the turnover.

With the creation of Alabama Power came low-priced electricity the state’s residents could rely on. Over the years, the company has also used its fame to do well within the community.

In addition to attracting industrial and commercial developments, creating thousands of jobs, tax revenue worth millions and life improvement.

Alabama Power has also invested its time and money in volunteer services.

Since its establishment Alabama Power employees have invested countless hours of volunteer time. Groups such as the Alabama Power Service Organization, or APSO, consist of more than 30,000 employees and their members helping nonprofit groups and charitable projects that promote education, good health, safety and other needs of the community. In the past year, APSO members have given more than 53,000 hours of their time and donated more than $1 million to worthy causes.

And even after retirement from Alabama Power, the company’s former employees keep volunteering. The Energizers give their time and money to schools, hospitals, libraries, fire and rescue squads and other nonprofit organizations. On average, Energizers contribute 10,000 and $100,000 a year.

Alabama Power’s Project SHARE provides energy relief to Alabama residents through the help of the American Red Cross and the community.

Since founding in 1982, Project SHARE has collected more than $14 million has been distributed to approximately 185,000 elderly, needy and disabled state residents, including a fair amount of those in Marengo County.

“They are not only a great corporation, but they are great citizens as well,” Demopolis Chamber of Commerce Industrial Development Board chairman Jay Shows said. “I am thrilled to have Mr. Martin in our community to speak to our community’s industry leaders.”

Martin will speak to local business leaders today during an invite-only event at Napoleon’s.

Information from www.southerncompany.com was used in this report.