Why Energy Matters to You —Thomas A. Fanning

Since our coverage of the Southern Company (SO) shareholders meeting in May, SO CEO Thomas A. Fanning has started his own YouTube video series, “Why Energy Matters to You”, in which he tries to head off a real energy policy by advocating SO’s nuclear and coal strategy instead.

SO PR 28 June 2012, Southern Company Chairman Launches CEO Social Media Video Series,

Southern Company SO today unveiled the first in a series of CEO Web videos examining issues critical to the electric utility industry. The video series, “Why Energy Matters to You,” is available on YouTube and features Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning. Fanning announced the Web series during an appearance at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colo.

Here are his two episodes so far. His theme:

“I believe that every American deserves a supply of clean, safe, reliable, and affordable energy.”

Who could argue with that? It’s just SO’s ideas of how to do it that provoke some argument.

Here’s Part 1 of 2:

Why Energy Matters to You —Thomas A. Fanning Part 1 of 2

His question:

“How can better energy create more economic freedom for the American people?”

His answer is in Part 2 of 2:

Why Energy Matters to You —Thomas A. Fanning Part 2 of 2:

Fanning proactively tries to head off a real national energy policy by advocating one including everything, which he names in this order: nuclear, “21st century coal”, natural gas, renewables, and efficiency. Which seems exactly backwards to me, especially given that the first three are not clean. Funny how he doesn’t mention fracking, but you can find that in his September 2011 position paper. Insurers know fracking is bad; at least one national insurer won’t cover fracking damages. 18% projected increase in energy demand over the next 20 years? How about a bit of conservation and efficiency first?

Like stocks, you don’t just pick your favorite, you diversify your portfolio.

So why is SO shooting all its arrows at the Savannah River with $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees, a stealth tax on Georgia Power customers, and permission to charge them for cost overruns, too? For that amount of money SO could have already built more wind and solar power than the new nukes at Plant Vogtle are project to deliver, if they ever come on line.

How about instead using some of SO’s vaunted private research and development to get a smart grid going in Georgia and across the southeast, distributing solar and wind energy? Let’s see some “real and meaningful solutions”!

Fanning contrasts electricity generation with the Internet, saying electricity is the greatest modern innovation. Maybe so, but the current electrical grid is a nineteenth century innovation that just left millions without power because it couldn’t react fast enough to record high temperatures and bad weather and a few large “baseload” energy sources couldn’t ramp up fast enough to deal with it. How about SO learn from the Internet how to do a distributed grid rapidly deploying widely scattered small solar and wind energy sources? That would be real clean, safe, reliable, and affordable energy.