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WILSONVILLE - The U.S. Department of Energy will establish a national center for research on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions at an Alabama Power Co. facility in Shelby County, the company and the Department of Energy announced Wednesday.

The National Carbon Capture Center, to be operated by Alabama Power's parent, Southern Co., in partnership with several other utility companies, will be placed at an existing research facility adjacent to Alabama Power's coal-fired Gaston power plant in Wilsonville. New technologies developed on small scales by university, private and government researchers will be tested under full-scale conditions at the center and at the Gaston plant, the Department of Energy announced. The project is expected to last five years and create about 170 jobs, a spokesman said. Officials didn't say when the center would open, but construction is under way. Scientists believe carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants are a significant contributor to global warming. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced this month that $2.4 billion from the national economic stimulus bill would go to research on capturing carbon emissions, including $800 million to be spent on developing clean coal technology.

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