Southern Co. plans Energy Innovation Center at Georgia Tech’s Technology Square

Southern Co. will open an Energy Innovation Center at Georgia Tech’s Technology Square in Midtown to develop ideas for electricity use.

mapSouthern said it will seek partnerships with universities in the Southeast to develop and test ideas. Employees’ ideas will be among the first tested as part of a companywide competition.

The parent of Georgia Power and other utilities in the Southeast will join a growing number of major corporations that are setting up shop at the Midtown technology hub.

Technology Square, which opened in 2003, is at Fifth and Spring streets, just east of the Downtown Connector. The $380 million Midtown complex consists of 1.4 million square feet of office, hotel, and retail space.

Other tenants include Home Depot, AT&T, Panasonic and elevator manufacturer ThyssenKrupp. The complex also is home to as many as 40 technology start-ups in an incubator program.

While Southern has not announce specific projects for the Energy Innovation Center, a spokesman said ideas could include the creation of a one-stop shop to help consumers explore electric vehicle options, including hands-on driving experiences; promotion of charging stations at home, work and in public locations; and determining a secondary market for electric vehicle battery technology.

In a statement about the new Energy Innovation Center, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Fanning said the center will develop innovations “to create better, more efficient ways to deliver power and help solve some of the challenges our customers face.”

Southern has been investing heavily in alternative sources of electricity, including solar and wind. The company announced Tuesday that it was acquiring a wind facility in Kay County, Okla., that will be able to supply electricity to 100,000 homes.

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