The Southern Company isn't just whistling Dixie. It 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 46,000 MW and serve more than 4.5 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; its Southern Telecom unit offers wholesale fiber-optic services. In 2015 the company agreed to buy gas utility AGL Resources for $8 billion.
Southern's regulated operating companies provide electric service to Alabama and Georgia as well as to the northwestern portion of Florida and southeastern Mississippi.
In 2014 the company owned and/or operated 33 hydroelectric power plants, 33 fossil fuel generating stations, three nuclear plants, and 13 combined cycle/cogeneration stations, nine solar plants, one landfill gas facility, and one biomass plant.
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. This unit has more than 8,760 MW of generating capacity.
Southern's transmission assets include more than 27,000 miles of transmission lines, 3,700 electric substations, and 300,000 acres of right of way.
Sales and Marketing
The company provides electricity to residential, industrial, and commercial customers.
The four traditional operating companies operate as vertically integrated utilities providing electricity to customers within their service areas in the Southeast. Prices for electricity provided to retail customers are set by state commissions under cost-based regulatory principles. Prices for wholesale electricity sales, interconnecting transmission lines, and the exchange of electric power are regulated by the FERC.
Southern distributes its product via distribution facilities.
In 2014 Southern's net revenues increased by 8% due to a sales increase in all of the company’s reporting segments.
Retail revenues increased due to higher rates at Georgia Power. The revenue increase in Alabama came from the inclusion of pre-2005 environmental assets. The Gulf Power sales increase came from a retail base rate increase and a higher environmental cost recovery clause rate.
Wholesale revenues rose due to an increase in energy and capacity revenues. The increase in energy revenues was primarily related to higher sales under existing contracts as well as new solar PPAs and requirements contracts primarily at Southern Power, increased demand as the result of colder than normal weather, and an increase in the average cost of natural gas. The increase in capacity revenues was due to wholesale base rate increases at Mississippi Power, partially offset by a decrease in capacity revenues as the result of lower customer demand and the expiration of certain requirements contracts at Southern Power.
Other electric revenues increased primarily due to higher open access transmission tariff revenues and transmission service revenues primarily at Alabama Power and Georgia Power; an increase in co-generation steam revenues at Alabama Power; increases in outdoor lighting and solar application fee revenues at Georgia Power; and higher franchise fees at Gulf Power.
In 2014 net income jumped by 19% due to an increase in net sales, and a decrease in estimated loss on Kemper IGCC power plant. construction.
Cash from operating activities increased by 5% in 2014.
Southern intends to continue its strategy of developing and constructing other new facilities, expanding existing facilities, and adding environmental control equipment.
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.
In 2015 Georgia Power announced the launch of the 2015/2016 Advanced Solar Initiative Distributed Generation program soliciting projects of varying sizes totaling 100 MW. The company will acquire these solar resources using a combination of competitive bidding and fixed pricing.
In another move to grow its green energy portfolio, in 2013 Southern's Georgia Power signed a deal with EDP Renewables North America to add wind energy to its diverse energy portfolio. Georgia Power will source 250 MW of wind energy (enough electricity to power more than 50,000 Georgia homes) from EDP's wind farms in southwest Oklahoma.
Mergers and Acquisitions
The company is looking to grow its green generating capacity.
In 2016 Southern bought PowerSecure International, a leading provider of utility and energy technologies to electric utilities, and their industrial, institutional and commercial customers.
In 2015 Southern agreed to buy Kay Wind Holdings, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Apex Clean Energy Holdings, LLC, for $492 million. Kay Wind is constructing a 299-MW wind facility in Kay County, Oklahoma.
That year Southern also acquired two Georgia solar projects totaling 99 MW.
In 2014 the company and Turner Renewable Energy acquired Adobe from Sun Edison. Adobe constructed and owns a 20-MW solar generating facility in Kern County, California. It also bought Imperial Valley from a wholly-owned subsidiary of First Solar, the developer of Imperial Valley's 150-MW solar photovoltaic facility in Southern California.
In 2013 Southern acquired the 139 MW Campo Verde Solar Project from First Solar. It was Southern Power-Turner Renewable Energy partnership's fifth solar acquisition and its first solar project in California. The Campo Verde Solar Project will more than double Southern's solar capacity and will provide enough electricity to serve about 48,000 homes.