President Barack Obama’s promised assault on climate change begins in earnest this month with the roll-out of rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions by new power plants.
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Southern Co. By The Numbers:
Customers: The company has several subsidiaries, including Georgia Power, Alabama Power and Gulf Power. It serves 4.4 million residential and business customers in four states. In Georgia, 2.4 million residential and business customers receive electricity through Georgia Power.
Profits: Each of Southern’s utilities is a regulated monopoly, allowed to earn a predetermined return on equity Georgia Power’s profit is 11.15 percent, but the utility is requesting that it be allowed to earn 11.5 percent. Southern Co.’s dividend currently is $2.03 per share annually. The divided increased in April 2012, marking the 12th consecutive year that this has happened. Southern has been paying its shareholders dividends for 262 quarters, or more than 64 years.
Lobbying spending: Spent $15.5 million lobbying in Washington D.C. in 2012, the highest annual tally on record for the company. The company has 53 federally-registered lobbyists stretching across 13 firms as well as the company’s in-house staff.
Issues: Among the issues Southern lobbied on in Washington are climate change, nuclear issues, taxes on dividends, cybersecurity and new regulations stemming from the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that could require Southern Co. money down to cover complex derivative swaps.
Campaign Contributions: Since 1989, Southern Co. has donated more than $12 million to state and federal candidates, according to campaign records. An analysis by the Washington D.C.-based Sunlight Foundation found that 61 percent of Southern’s donations went to Republican candidates and 34 percent to Democrats.
With federal action on climate change coming in September, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution looked at the role Southern Co. was playing in the Washington debate. The AJC sifted through more than a decade’s worth of federal lobbying reports to provide a comprehensive look at the Atlanta-based utility giant’s influence. The AJC looked at campaign contributions by Southern, poured through federal regulations and interviewed Washington lobbyists and analysts to paint a picture of what is at stake for the company. Kristi Swartz _ who has been covering utility issues on and off for 10 years _ also sat down for an exclusive interview with Southern CEO Tom Fanning.