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The Southern Company

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2019 Vault Rankings

At a Glance

Uppers

Great work environment, which offers stable employment, good benefits, and good work/life balance

Downers

Flexible work arrangements like telecommuting are rarely allowed

The Bottom Line

Southern Company offers stability, competitive pay, a pension, and 9-to-5 hours for most of its employees.

About The Southern Company

Southern Company owns and operates regulated utilities Alabama Power, Georgia Power, and Mississippi Power, and Southern Power, which combined have a generating capacity of almost 44,000 MW and serve nearly 4.7 million electricity customers in the southeastern US. Through its Southern Company Gas subsidiary, the utility also distributes natural gas through more than 75,000 miles of pipeline to approximately 4.2 million customers in four states. Its energy sources include natural gas, coal, nuclear, and renewables.

Operations

Southern Company has three business segments: Traditional Electric Operating Companies (TEOCs), Southern Company Gas, and Southern Power. The TEOCs generate about 70% of revenue, while Southern Company Gas contributes over 15%. Southern Power accounts for nearly 10% of revenue.

The TEOCs' regulated utility companies own generation, transmission, and distribution facilities that provide electricity to several Southeastern states. The companies include Alabama Power, Georgia Power, and Mississippi Power; they generate more than 125 billion KW hours of electricity and purchase greater than 35 billion KW hours yearly.

Southern Company Gas stores and distributes natural gas through its some 15 storage facilities (which have a total capacity of roughly 160 billion cubic feet) and more than 75,000 miles of pipelines.

Southern Power constructs, acquires, owns, and manages power generation assets and sells electricity in the wholesale market. It typically pursues long-term power purchase agreements. The segment generates more than 45 billion KW hours of electricity and purchases nearly an additional 5 billion KW hours yearly.

Of its own generated power, just over 40% comes from natural gas; coal and nuclear provide more than 25% and almost 15%, respectively. The rest comes from hydro power and other sources and purchased power.

The Southern Company owns or operates about 35 hydroelectric power plants, greater than 25 fossil fuel generating stations, three nuclear power plants, around a dozen combined cycle/cogeneration stations, approximately 40 solar facilities, nearly 10 wind farms, and a biomass facility.

Geographic Reach

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Southern Company's electric service territory encompasses about 115,000 square miles and an estimated population of 16 million people. It supplies electric service to most of Alabama and Georgia and the southeastern portion of Mississippi. However, its impact is felt beyond its direct service area because the power generated by its facilities is sold to non-affiliated distribution systems, and its Southern Power unit sells to investor-owned utilities, municipalities, and electric cooperatives outside its territory.

Through its Southern Company Gas unit, the business serves more than 4.2 million customers in Illinois, Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee.

Sales and Marketing

Southern Company clients include retail electrical and gas customers, wholesale electric and gas purchasers, and owners of non-affiliated electric distribution systems. The retail business is its largest, accounting for almost 80% of all revenue (about 65% electricity, nearly 15% gas), with residential electric customers contributing some 30%. Commercial electric clients provide around 20%; wholesale electric sales represent roughly 10%. Southern Company sells electricity at market-based rates in the wholesale market, primarily to investor-owned utilities, municipalities, electric cooperatives, and other load serving entities.

Financial Performance

Despite a dip in 2015, Southern Company has grown its revenue by more than a quarter in the past five years. Net income expanded steadily before cratering in 2017 when the company faced a federal investigation and reached a settlement over an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant in Kemper County, Mississippi that it could not manage to run reliably and had to convert to a conventional natural gas plant; Southern Company rebounded the following year, however.

The utility's revenue ticked up 2% to $23.5 billion in 2018 thanks primarily to colder weather. Its regulated utility companies are typically the sole authorized electricity and gas supplier for their service areas. Although niche players and projects may present negligible third-party competition from time to time, the regulated nature of its business represents a significant barrier to entry to would-be competitors.

Net income shot up 155% to $2.2 billion due to the massive 2017 reduction caused by the company's troubles with the Kemper plant.

Southern Company used $628 million of its cash in 2018 to end the year with stores of $1.5 billion. Operations provided $6.9 billion. The company used $5.8 billion on investments -- mostly property additions -- and $1.8 billion on financing activities -- primarily long-term debt and short-term borrowing redemptions and repurchases.

Strategy

Subject to the volatility of energy markets, Southern Company regularly evaluates demand for its services in its existing and new geographic markets. It acquires and disposes of businesses and assets and enters joint development agreements to modulate operations according to market forces.

In 2019 the company moved to expand its geographic reach when it partnered with lithium ion batter storage company esVolta to invest in four utility energy storage projects in California totaling greater than 86 MW. Southern Power also invested in a utility-scale fuel cell generator project in Delaware with Bloom Energy. Building on a 2016 alliance between the companies which has developed more than 80 MW of fuel cells throughout the US, the partners will repower fuel cells in New Castle and Newark comprising 30 MW of Bloom Energy servers.

That year the company sold its Nacogdoches Generating Facility to Austin Energy for $460 million. Southern Company will use the proceeds from the sale of the biomass facility to meet equity needs. It also sold Florida assets Plan Oleander and Plant Stanton. In 2018 the company sold Mankato Energy Center to Xcel Energy for $650 million. Mankato is a natural gas combined-cycle generation facility with maximum capacity of 760 MW in Minnesota.

The Southern Company

30 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd NW STE 1407
Atlanta, GA 30308-3008
Phone: 1 (404) 506-5000

Stats

Employer Type: Publicly Owned
Stock Symbol: SO
Stock Exchange: , NYSE
Chairman, President, and CEO: Thomas A. Fanning
Business Recruitment And Strategy Director: Walter Farrell
EVP and COO: Kimberly S. Greene
Employees (This Location): 170
Employees (All Locations): 29,192

Major Office Locations

Atlanta, GA

Other Locations

Abbeville, AL
Aliceville, AL
Anniston, AL
Atmore, AL
Attalla, AL
Auburn, AL
Bay Minette, AL
Bayou La Batre, AL
Bessemer, AL
Birmingham, AL
Blountsville, AL
Bucks, AL
Calera, AL
Camden, AL
Carbon Hill, AL
Centre, AL
Childersburg, AL
Citronelle, AL
Clanton, AL
Columbia, AL
Dadeville, AL
Dora, AL
Eufaula, AL
Eutaw, AL
Fayette, AL
Florala, AL
Forkland, AL
Gadsden, AL
Geneva, AL
Goodwater, AL
Haleyville, AL
Heflin, AL
Jackson, AL
Jasper, AL
Leesburg, AL
Mobile, AL
Monroeville, AL
Montgomery, AL
Northport, AL
Ohatchee, AL
Oneonta, AL
Ozark, AL
Parrish, AL
Pelham, AL
Pell City, AL
Prattville, AL
Prichard, AL
Quinton, AL
Ragland, AL
Roanoke, AL
Salem, AL
Saraland, AL
Selma, AL
Sylacauga, AL
Talladega, AL
Tallassee, AL
Theodore, AL
Tuscaloosa, AL
Union Springs, AL
Valley, AL
Verbena, AL
Vincent, AL
Wetumpka, AL
Wilsonville, AL
York, AL
Stamford, CT
Cantonment, FL
Chipley, FL
Fort Walton Beach, FL
Lynn Haven, FL
Milton, FL
Orlando, FL
Panama City, FL
Pensacola, FL
Sneads, FL
Tallahassee, FL
Albany, GA
Americus, GA
Athens, GA
Atlanta, GA
Bainbridge, GA
Baxley, GA
Brunswick, GA
Canton, GA
Carrollton, GA
Cartersville, GA
Cedartown, GA
Clarkesville, GA
Conyers, GA
Cornelia, GA
Eatonton, GA
Fayetteville, GA
Forest Park, GA
Fort Gaines, GA
Fortson, GA
Hartwell, GA
Jackson, GA
Jasper, GA
Jesup, GA
Jonesboro, GA
Juliette, GA
Kennesaw, GA
Lakemont, GA
Lawrenceville, GA
Lithonia, GA
Macon, GA
Madison, GA
Manchester, GA
Marietta, GA
Mcdonough, GA
Milledgeville, GA
Newnan, GA
Norcross, GA
Riverdale, GA
Rockmart, GA
Rome, GA
Savannah, GA
Smyrna, GA
Snellville, GA
Statesboro, GA
Tallulah Falls, GA
Tucker, GA
Union City, GA
Valdosta, GA
Vidalia, GA
Waycross, GA
Waynesboro, GA
Carthage, IL
Crystal Lake, IL
Glen Ellyn, IL
Joliet, IL
Kankakee, IL
Lincolnshire, IL
Mendota, IL
Naperville, IL
Ottawa, IL
Erath, LA
Lafayette, LA
Mankato, MN
Bay Saint Louis, MS
Escatawpa, MS
Forest, MS
Gulfport, MS
Hattiesburg, MS
Lucedale, MS
Meridian, MS
Sumrall, MS
Princeton, NC
Salisbury, NC
Buffalo, NY
Memphis, TN
Houston, TX
Newport News, VA
Norfolk, VA
Kirkland, WA