Southern Company

InfluenceMap Score
E
Performance Band
23%
Organisation Score
44%
Relationship Score
Modifications to InfluenceMap Scoring
Sector:
Utilities
Head​quarters:
Atlanta, United States
Brands and Associated Companies
Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Southern Nuclear

Climate Lobbying Overview: Southern Company is actively lobbying against US climate change policy and appears to oppose nearly all strands of climate legislation. Though their top-line messaging on climate change has shown a loosely positive shift, their stances on climate-related regulation and the transition of the energy mix remain largely at odds with IPCC guidance.

Top-Line Messaging on Climate Policy: Southern Company has historically questioned the science of climate change, including funding the research of a prominent climate denier in 2015. As recently as 2017, CEO Tom Fanning publicly disputed the science of climate change. In 2019 and 2020, the company has shifted to recognize the “importance” of responding to climate change, but exhibits strong support for carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies rather than stringent policy measures to combat emissions as recommended by the IPCC.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: Southern Company was a consistent opponent of the Clean Power Plan, utilizing consultations with the US EPA as well as legal action to derail the plan between 2014 and 2016. In 2016, Southern Company directly opposed proposed model emissions trading rules included in the plan. The company lobbied against carbon tax legislation in 2014, and in 2019, CEO Tom Fanning reiterated his opposition to a climate-motivated carbon tax.

Southern Company does not support renewable energy legislation, with Fanning speaking out in 2020 against renewable energy mandates. The company, through their subsidiary Alabama power, was also the principle advocate of an Alabama solar fee, which limits the feasibility of independent solar generation in the state.

Positioning on Energy Transition: While pursuing a low-to-no carbon transition in its own operations, Southern Company does not appear to support a low-carbon energy sector. CEO Tom Fanning has voiced support for the replacement of coal with natural gas, but remains opposed as of 2020 to government intervention in the energy mix, including the regulation of coal. In addition, Southern Company and its subsidiary, Southern Company Gas, appear to support a long-term rather than transitional role for natural gas “in a clean energy future.” Comments on the 2018 Virginia Energy Plan suggest a similar position on the role of natural gas.

Southern Company’s adverse position on the energy transition is further evident at the state level. Southern Company subsidiaries have blocked third-party interventions in utility commission cases for their Integrated Resource Plans in Mississippi and Alabama, reportedly to protect investments in gas-burning. In 2020, subsidiary Nicor Gas stood as an opponent of Illinois’ Clean Energy Jobs Act. Despite Southern Company’s predominantly negative position on the energy transition, they are a founding member of the Zero Emission Transportation Association - an electric vehicle advocacy group.

Industry Association Governance: Southern Company left America’s Power in 2019 as one of two final utilities to leave the group. However, it remains a member of other organizations consistently opposed to climate change policies, such as the US Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Southern Company Vice-President and President for External Affairs Christopher C. Womack is on the executive committee of the National Association of Manufacturers.

QUERIES
DATA SOURCES
Main Web Site Social Media CDP Responses Legislative Consultations Media Reports CEO Messaging Financial Disclosures EU Register
Climate Science Transparency
0 NS NS -2 -2 -1 NS NA
Climate Science Stance
NS 0 NA -2 0 NS NS NA
Need for Climate Regulation
1 -2 NS -1 -2 -1 NS NA
UN Treaty Support
NS 0 NS NS NS NS 0 NA
Transparency on Legislation
-1 NA -1 NA NA NA NS NA
Carbon Tax
NS -1 NS NS -2 -1 NS NA
Emissions Trading
NS NS NS -2 -2 NS NS NA
Energy Efficiency Standards
0 0 0 -2 NS 0 0 NA
Renewable Energy Legislation
NS 0 NS -1 -2 -1 NS NA
Energy Policy and Mix
0 0 1 -1 0 0 0 NA
GHG Emission Standards
0 NS NS -1 -1 -2 0 NA
Disclosure on Relationships
0 NS 0 NA NA NA NS NA
Strength of Relationship
STRONG
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WEAK
 
23%
 
23%
 
36%
 
36%
 
93%
 
93%
 
41%
 
41%
 
25%
 
25%
 
46%
 
46%

How to Read our Relationship Score Map

In this section, we depict graphically the relationships the corporation has with trade associations, federations, advocacy groups and other third parties who may be acting on their behalf to influence climate change policy. Each of the columns above represents one relationship the corporation appears to have with such a third party. In these columns, the top, dark section represents the strength of the relationship the corporation has with the influencer. For example if a corporation's senior executive also held a key role in the trade association, we would deem this to be a strong relationship and it would be on the far left of the chart above, with the weaker ones to the right. Click on these grey shaded upper sections for details of these relationships. The middle section contains a link to the organization score details of the influencer concerned, so you can see the details of its climate change policy influence. Click on the middle sections for for details of the trade associations. The lower section contains the organization score of that influencer, the lower the more negatively it is influencing climate policy.