Southern Co. chief’s pay rises to $15.8 million despite cost overruns


Southern Co. Chief Executive Thomas Fanning got a nearly 34 percent raise last year, to $15.8 million, although much of the compensation was related to changing valuations of his pension benefits.

Still, Fanning’s non-pension pay such as salary, stock awards and bonus increased by $930,000 last year — equivalent to a nearly 8 percent raise — even as the Atlanta-based utility continued to struggle with mounting cost overruns at two of its biggest power plant projects.

One of those problems grew to crisis portions this week with the bankruptcy filing of Westinghouse Electric, the key contractor building two new reactors for Georgia Power at the Plant Vogtle nuclear power complex near Augusta. Georgia Power, a subsidiary for Atlanta-based Southern Co., is the lead partner of the project.

Fanning flew to Tokyo this week ahead of Westinghouse’s bankruptcy filing to talk to executives at its parent company, Toshiba Corp., about committing to pay billions in cost overruns on the Vogtle project.

Georgia Power scrambled to keep work going on the construction project while it analyzes whether it is still viable, and how much it will cost to complete it.

The project is already over three years behind schedule and over $3 billion over budget. The fallout from Westinghouse’s Chapter 11 reorganization is widely expected to bring more costs and delays.

Meanwhile, another Southern subsidiary, Mississippi Power, has been hit with delays and billions in costs overruns as it struggles to get an advanced-technology “clean coal” power plant running properly.

Last year, Southern’s profits grew about 4 percent, to $2.5 billion.

Southern Co. said 2016 “was a successful year for us” and that Fanning and other top executives exceeded pay performance goals tied to the company’s profits, according to a company filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

However, those profit targets also excluded the impact of the troubled Mississippi plant’s cost overruns and certain other costs, according to the March 24 proxy filing.

Last year, Fanning, 60, received a $1.3 million salary, a $2.7 million bonus, $7.8 million in stock awards, and $119,667 in perks such as personal use of company aircraft and financial planning services.

Southern estimated that the value of Fanning’s pension benefits increased by almost $3.9 million last year because of various factors such as lower interest rates and Fanning’s pay increases and rising age.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Government watchdogs reject Equifax appeal on IRS contract
Government watchdogs reject Equifax appeal on IRS contract

Government watchdogs have rejected an Equifax appeal of last week’s decision by the IRS to take away a $7.25 million contract from the embattled Atlanta company. According to a report in Politico, the Government Accountability Office on Monday denied a protest filed by Equifax, which had hoped to hold on to a contract to provide help to...
Delta calls Airbus A350 its ‘new flagship aircraft’
Delta calls Airbus A350 its ‘new flagship aircraft’

Delta Air Lines’ new flagship aircraft will be its extra wide-body Airbus A350 jet, said chief operating officer Gil West. The airline will begin flying the jet Oct. 30 on its Detroit-Tokyo Narita route and also will use it to fly from Detroit to Seoul and to Beijing starting in November and in January. From Atlanta, Delta plans to ...
Kempner: Which of these startups will be a billion-dollar business?
Kempner: Which of these startups will be a billion-dollar business?

If you know anyone who’s started a business, you know being an entrepreneur trying to market something cool and new can be brutally hard. And mighty expensive. Which is why the last couple weeks have been big ones for owners of some Georgia startups. Dozens exhibited and pitched their businesses to investors or potential customers at several...
5 cheap purchases that cost you more in the long run
5 cheap purchases that cost you more in the long run

Saving money often involves finding a way to pay less for something that you want or need. But sometimes the old adage about being "penny wise, pound foolish" applies, as the cheaper way out can end up costing you. For certain purchases, spending more money up front can help you save in the long run. Trying to save a few dollars per lightbulb...
Save money, stop fraud: 4 things to watch on your credit card statement
Save money, stop fraud: 4 things to watch on your credit card statement

With credit cards, what you don't know can cost you.  Luckily, most of what you need to know is right at your fingertips − your credit card statement. Review it with a critical eye, and you'll save money, correct errors and even stop fraud.  Your transactions: Credit card companies do make errors. Review your statement every month...
More Stories