Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Southern Company is currently the eighth largest utility company in the world, the second largest in the U.S. and the largest in the southeastern U.S. It operates in the southeast United States and is the parent company to the Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Mississippi Power utilities, as well as other subsidiaries that include nuclear power generation. 77% of Southern Company’s electrity is generated from fossil fuels, predominantly coal.
Many of Southern Company’s power plants were exempted from the Clean Air Act’s 1977 requirements to install modern pollution control equipment because they were built from the 1950s to the 1970s.
The first three quarters of 2010 brought Southern Co. over $1.8 billion in profit; the company made over $6.6 billion from 2005-2009.
As of September 2009 Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) reports that Southern Company is among the five highest carbon dioxide emitting power companies in the World, emitting 206,000,000 tons of atmospheric CO2 each year. The Political Economy Research Institute ranks the company 33 out of the 100 highest air polluters in the U.S.
Southern Company has spent over $63 million in lobbying expenditures from 2008-2012. Southern Co. is also heavily invested in lobbying and public relations through its membership in the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a publicity front group for the coal industry heavily embedded in the climate denial machine. ACCCE spent over $12 million on political lobbying from 2008-2010.
Southern Co. has embarked on a major greenwashing campaigns.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA) that passed in the U.S. House in 2009, which included many favors for the coal industry, was encouraged by tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to House members from Southern Co.'s political action committee.