The Lodge Conference Center at Callaway Gardens
Pine Mountain, Georgia 3182
It includes a list of Items of Business, which doesn’t mention that
stockholders are usually allowed to ask questions.
Those questions are usually answered by Thomas A. fanning,
Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer,
who included a letter (text below) in which he recites
his usual list of energy sources, in his usual order: Continue reading →
Slides and sound for Southern Company (SO) CEO Thomas A. Fanning’s main presentation at the 23 May 2012 SO shareholder meeting are available from SO on their website. SO doesn’t seem to have posted videos yet, although they had professional video equipment in use, and I was told just after the event that their videos would be on the web later that same day.
These items have already been blogged about this meeting:
I missed at least one questioner: Colleen Kiernan, Director of the Georgia Sierra Club. I plead unfamiliar cameras. Maybe soon SO will publish its own videos. SO was using a camera in front of the questioners, so you should be able to see them better.
Videos of Shareholder Questions to Southern Company Shareholder Meeting, Southern Company (SO), Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia, 23 May 2012. Video by John S. Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).
Virtually all empirical evidence for decades indicates that climate disruption, related ocean acidification, sea rise and global warming are not only happening, but consistently occurring at the highest range of modeled projections. Events which were projected within 100 years twenty years ago, and within 50 years 10 years ago, are happening now. Instead of fighting a delaying, rear-guard action against big, dynamic change in energy production, wouldn’t it be better for our company to set the standard for transformation? It seems we have the most to lose, and, therefore, the most to gain.
Unless there is some unexpected reversal in the climate change trends which have been occurring for decades, it seems inevitable that National Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (RPS) will be legislated well before the end of this decade. Moody’s cited this likelihood in their recent credit downgrade of Southern Company. Since it seems highly unlikely that biomass and nuclear will be considered renewable energy sources under a RPS, where will Southern Company acquire mandated renewable energy — perhaps 20% or more of the total mix by 2020? And will the PSC allow us to load our full profits to rates for this energy on top of the big profits to the probable merchant suppliers, such as West Texas Wind?
I have heard reports that Santee Cooper in South Carolina and
Duke Energy in North Carolina are exploring the possibility of a joint venture to develop off-shore wind. Wouldn’t it be advantageous to ally with them in a joint venture? The Carolinas have a very long coast and very good wind resources, and a combined effort could reduce risk for all of us and significantly increase our combined political leverage. If we do not create some credible Georgia renewable energy resource, isn’t it possible that we will be forced to buy wind power from the Carolinas at an exorbitant rate within the next decade?
Between the likelihood of carbon pricing and a National Renewable Energy Standard, it seems almost certain that Southern Company’s extreme reliance on coal fired power generation will be significantly reduced, voluntarily or by fiat, this decade. Nuclear seems more unlikely and expensive a salvation than ever. Isn’t it time we changed course and embraced proven and rapidly improving solar and wind technology before we are forced into them by National mandate?
According to the information on your climate change Web site, Southern Company supports the target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. Can you tell us the approximate mix of nuclear, renewables, and efficiency that you envision to reach that goal?
McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) and Southern Co. (NYSE:SO) agreed to disclose and have their directors oversee soft money political contributions made with corporate funds, shareholder activists announced today. The groups, Washington-based Center for Political Accountability (CPA), socially responsible investment firm Trillium Asset Management Corp., and the Central Laborers’ Pension Fund, are part of a nationwide campaign to bring transparency and accountability to company political spending.
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.
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.
What about supplier diversity outreach efforts at Southern Company (SO), asked David (didn’t get his last name; sorry). SO CEO Thomas A. Fanning responded that those efforts were critically important, and part of how they got paid. CEO Fanning added:
When you think about building a nuclear plant, you’re procuring great big huge scale equipment. The minority suppliers really don’t lend themselves to say a gigantic steam turbine or a reactor vessel. But where we can use diverse suppliers in our supply chain efforts, we absolutely do undertake to make sure that they have an opportunity to compete for the business, and we can coach them along to make sure that they are ultimately successful.
Perhaps this monoculture of suppliers for huge equipment is yet another flaw in building mainframes in a networked-tablet world. They could get a lot more diversity by deploying solar power plants throughout sunny south Georgia, especially if they included financing housetop and business roof solar.
Earlier CEO Fanning had gone on at some length about diversity on SO’s all-white board, saying that SO didn’t measure diversity by such metrics as race or ethnicity or gender. Some people wonder if they measure it by different majors at Auburn or Georgia Tech. Not to be ungenerous, I do applaud SO for their diversity outreach efforts.
Supplier diversity outreach –David ? Shareholder Meeting, Southern Company (SO), Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia, 23 May 2012. Video by John S. Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).
Thomas Griffin asked Southern Company (SO) CEO Thomas A. Fanning what SO has done to deal with EMP:
If a foreign entity were to detonate a nuclear device above 25 miles above the United States it would cause an electro-magnetic pulse, which would in fact take out not only the electric grid, but trains, all cars with computers, all radios and TV stations, the telephone company, and we would really be in bad shape, because everything that runs on electricity, which is virtually all businesses would be down.
And my question to you is does Southern Company have backup, shielded, hardware and software to bring a control station back up, shielded from this, so that they could replace it, and bring the grid back on line.
CEO Fanning said he couldn’t talk about specifics, pleading national security. He added:
Rest assured that we pay a lot of attention to preserving the sanctity of the electric networks in the southeast, including things like EMF.
Interesting wording, “sanctity”. I didn’t know electrical production was a religious matter. Probably just a misphrasing.
But the other thing I think you should recognize is that if somebody is detonating a nuclear bomb that is emits an EMF force above the United States we’re in deeper problems already.
What about EMP? –Thomas Griffin Shareholder Meeting, Southern Company (SO), Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia, 23 May 2012. Video by John S. Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).
According to memory, Sam Booher congratulated Southern Company (SO) CEO Thomas A. Fanning on moving away from coal, and recommended big bold bets in solar power. Camera operator error prevented recording what Booher said. I did get video of CEO Fanning’s response, about shale and natural gas, plus Australia.
…the most reliable forms of energy. Today, with the revolution we have seen in the shale gas industry, that tends to be natural gas. And so what we are doing is we are transitioning away from coal towards natural gas. Combined with new environmental regulations that we will comply with.
“It’s physically impossible to build the controls, the generation, the transmission and the pipelines needed in three years.”
COO Topazi also projected:
“We will experience rolling blackouts or rationing power if we don’t have simply the time to comply.”
Since SO CEO Fanning didn’t say anything about rolling blackouts or rationing power, I guess SO managed to find a way to comply, just as other power companies said they could at the time. Maybe we shouldn’t pay too much attention to predictions of flickering power from SO.
Back to CEO Fanning:
From an energy standpoint, Southern Company is a little bit smaller, but similar to, the energy production profile of the nation of Australia. We are a great, big company from an energy production standpoint.
At Southern Company’s (SO) shareholder meeting, I enumerated some examples in the U.S., Japan, and Germany of nuclear gone bad, and pointed out Japan, Germany, and even Bulgaria had already or were getting out of nuclear, while Southern Company and Georgia continued to bet the farm on nuclear, and I asked what was SO’s exit strategy for when that bad bet goes bad? SO CEO Thomas A. Fanning said they had learned everything there was to learn from Fukushima, and besides Plant Vogtle is 100 miles inland where there are no earthquakes. He didn’t mention the same description applies to Chernobyl. He did say SO planned to make the U.S. nuclear industry the best in the world.
You kept using big bets and then bet the farm. Very interesting terminology.
Regarding operations credibility, a year ago Vogtle Unit 1 shut down 2 days after the NRC gave Vogtle a clean bill of health. But the SO CEO says it’s all better now.
Here’s the video, followed by links to sources for the points I made:
Exit strategy for when this big nuclear bet goes bad? –John S. Quarterman Shareholder Meeting, Southern Company (SO), Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia, 23 May 2012. Video by John S. Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).
Here are the main points I was reading from, with links:
After saluting Southern Company (SO) for burning less coal, Mark Woodall said he was very disappointed to see Georgia Power fight so hard to prevent homeowners from using their own private property to generate and sell solar energy. He quoted SO CEO Thomas A. Fanning’s oft-repeated remark that Fanning is “bullish on solar”. Fanning proceeded to define “bullish” as pie in the sky bye and bye.
We remain very bullish on solar. When we think about renewables, I think renewables are exceedingly important to this nation’s future. My sense is until we see significant technology innovation, my sense is that that will probably very late in this decade or beyond that, we still are gonna get by far the lion’s share of electricity from central stations.
Then he said he was bullish on thin-film solar. Some time in the future or “one day” when
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