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Southern Pine loses customers to Alabama Power

By By Sherry Digmon
Some county residents will find a change in their electricity provider but Atmore residents won't be among them.
Southern Pine Electric Co-op is losing more than 150 customers in Flomaton, Brewton, East Brewton and Beatrice to Alabama Power Company.
Jim Byrd, Southern Pine CEO and general manager, said the annual loss to the co-op will be about $200,000.
The change stems from the 1985 Territorial Act passed by the Alabama legislature. The act clarified service territories for electric utilities in the state in an effort to avoid duplication of electrical facilities.
However, the act was declared unconstitutional by a federal court and has been undergoing numerous legal challenges.
According to a press release from Alabama Power Co., the act was upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court on July 16, 1999.
"The act gives the major supplier for a municipality the right to buy out the minor supplier within their limits," Byrd said.
The overlap occurs around city limits, but there's no overlapping territory around Atmore.
East Brewton and Flomaton have the greatest number of customers to be switched.
Byrd said the customers have no choice, but the co-op is trying to make the change as smooth as possible.
"There will have to be new lines run," Byrd said. "Meters and transformers will have to be changed.
"We're working together to make it most convenient for the customers … There has been no deadline set. We expect to have the changeover completed in the first quarter next year."