The Southern Company isn't just whistling Dixie. The holding company is one of the largest electricity distributors in the US. It operates regulated utilities Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, and Mississippi Power, which combined have a generating capacity of more than 43,550 MW and serve more than 4.4 million electricity customers in the southeastern US. Southern also has energy marketing operations, and it provides energy consulting and management services for businesses and institutions. Through its Southern LINC Wireless unit, it provides wireless communications services in its US utility territory; its Southern Telecom unit offers wholesale fiber-optic services.
The company's nonregulated energy sector activities include marketing excess energy from its retail plants. It is building competitive plants across the southeastern US through subsidiary Southern Power. In 2011 this unit had 7,500 MW of generating capacity.
In 2011 Southern's transmission assets (valued at $6.2 billion) included more than 27,000 miles of transmission lines, 3,700 electric substations, and 300,000 acres of right of way.
The recovering economy helped lift commercial and industrial retail revenues in 2011, contributing to Southern's 1% rise in overall revenues, more than compensating for weak wholesale revenues and the mild weather which sapped residential power demand. The company posted an 11% jump in net income for the year thanks to lower fuel and operating costs.
In keeping with the federal regulatory framework, which demands that utilities cut back on carbon emissions, Southern's Mississippi Power is building a 582-MW integrated gasification combined cycle power plant. One of the first advanced gasification generating facilities with carbon capture capabilities in the US, it is expected to become operational in 2014.
Looking to grow its green generating capacity, in 2012 Southern received government approval to begin construction on the first two new nuclear units in the US in 30 years, at subsidiary Georgia Power's Plant Vogtle, near Waynesboro.
Furthering its green energy strategy, in 2010 Southern formed Southern Renewable Energy to build, acquire, own, and manage renewable generation asset. This unit teamed up with Ted Turner's Turner Renewable Energy to bring online one of the largest solar photovoltaic power plants in the US. The 30 MW plant, built by First Solar to supply electricity to 9,000 homes in New Mexico, began commercial operations in late 2010.
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