ATTALLA, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama Power’s decision to close 40 offices around the state includes one with a lot of sentimentality attached: it’s in a city that claims to be the utility’s birthplace.
Attalla makes that claim in its welcome signs, including one located at city hall.
That's because the utility's founder, riverboat captain W.P. Lay, built the world's first hydroelectric plant on Big Wills Creek.
The company announced Monday 40 locations set to close August 30th, because fewer people are walking into offices. It includes Birmingham area offices in Columbiana, Gardendale and Leeds, and East Alabama offices in Ashville, Jacksonville and Heflin.
A company spokesperson says more people are paying online, and can continue to do that or pay in other locations, such as Walmart, Dollar General or Piggly Wiggly.
In many cases they can go to a nearby city. Attalla customers can drive to the Alabama Power office in Gadsden, for instance, since that one won't close.
A historic neon sign bearing the likeness of the company's former mascot, Reddy Kilowatt, hangs above the Attalla office in the heart of the city's historic downtown.
Mayor Larry Means says his constituents are very sentimental, and he's in talks with the company to keep the sign in downtown Attalla and to find a special use for that office. He says it's too small to be converted to a museum, but perhaps not too small to be a welcome center for the city.
When the sign came down temporarily a few years ago, he says he got angry calls demanding to know what happened to it.
“Being from here all my life, my granddad worked for Alabama Power, I know a lot about that. And it’s very sentimental, boy. I just told you, I think, that they took that sign down to refurbish it and more people started calling me. This was about two or three years ago,” Means said.
The Attalla office is only open two days a week, Monday and Friday, so Mayor Means says he understands the decision to close it.
However, the company’s actual history claims Gadsden as its birthplace because of paperwork saying W.P. Lay and other investors incorporated it in that city.