For the 99% Chernobyl, water and Plant Vogtle –Stephanie Coffin @ SO 2012-05-23

What about renewable clean energy such as wind off the coast instead of a water-sucking nuclear plant? Stephanie Coffin for the 99% asked Southern Company (SO) CEO Thomas A. Fanning. She also mentioned Chernobyl, and said more than once that he hadn’t addressed these questions either in the Q&A section or in his earlier performance.

CEO Fanning once again didn’t address those questions, instead enumarating the points he’d told me (scale, financial track record, and operational credibility). He did refer to SO’s Chief Environmental Officer, Chris Hobson.

But he liked the water point:

I think frankly water, more than air, is the issue of the future.

Here in the south Georgia protracted extreme drought with groundwater at historically low levels, water is the issue not just of the future, but already for years now.

He continued:

One of the things we should be very proud about Southern Company is that we are a company that is engaged in offering solutions, not just rhetoric. We remain the only company engaged in proprietary research and development. We’re the only company in America today that has a 1600 person engineering and construction service. So we have the credibility to do whatever our words say.

He also talked about carbon capture research (for DoE, in Alabama), about gassifying coal to “strip out 65% of the CO2” to make it comparable to natural gas (which is what SO mostly uses now to generate energy), and about using the CO2 in oil recovery.

He finally got around to water:

We’re the only company in the United States today that has dedicated research and development facilities to evaluate and minimize the use of water in our generating facilities.

He said a bit more about that. And all that’s nice, although a bit late, considering we already have historically low groundwater levels.

About renewable clean energy such as solar and wind, he claimed they were a lot more expensive and he was waiting for thin film solar, like he’d already said to Mark Woodall.

Roughly 48% of our customer base makes less than $40,000 a year. To those people, every dollar matters. And therefore, we’ve got to look after them. to deliver the most economical, most reliable sources of energy.

And SO and Georgia Power looked after “those people” by raising Georgia Power customers’ bills to pay for the new Plant Vogtle nuclear units years before anyone will see power from them. If ever. Remember former Governor Barnes and former Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson are suing Georgia Power to stop that Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) charge. Without that, SO may not get its new nukes. But Georgia Power customers and we the taxpayers will get to pick up the tab for whatever has been spent up until then, because of the federal loan guarantee and a sweetheart deal with the Georgia PSC. That’s an odd way to look after “those people”, it seems to me.

If you’re one of “those people” and you’d prefer clean renewable energy, you can pay your CWIP charge on a separate check and write your opinion on it for Georgia Power and SO to read.

Here’s the video:

For the 99% Chernobyl, water and Plant Vogtle –Stephanie Coffin
Shareholder Meeting, Southern Company (SO),
Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia, 23 May 2012.
Video by John S. Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).