“Almost like a Berkshire-Hathaway meeting,” remarked SO CEO Tom Fanning after Sierra Club (and other) activists asked questions at the Southern Company stockholder meeting at Callaway Gardens yesterday, as promised by the numerous news stories the previous day after the press conference organized by Georgia Sierra Club Director Colleen Kiernan. As usual Fanning turned in a Class A CEO performance, although he seemed bemused by the diversity and sometimes very positive slant of the questions, which nonetheless brought up numerous problems with SO’s coal and nuclear agenda, lackluster renewable energy agenda, and the impending disruption of distributed solar power.
New rule this year: no unauthorized video or flash photography, posted on big signs outside the conference room door. I asked Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers to authorize me, but he said it was a shareholder meeting and thus a different level. The person in charge of SO’s own videoing promised they’d be available on the web soon after the meeting. I told him I’d been checking since last year’s meeting, and those still weren’t on the web. He said they had been briefly; then they were taken down. But he would make them available. We’ll see…. Meanwhile, you only get this one picture of Tom Fanning (he insists everyone call him Tom) as he compared SO’s stock price to the only more stable company: Hormel. That’s right, SO is almost as stable as Spam. He looked at me rather pointedly as he announced that new rule. And rather wryly later when I pointed out that according to Edison Electric Institute SO’s business model was due for disruption very soon. More on that later, along with other reports on Wednesday’s meeting.
Walter C. Jones wrote for Morris News Service 21 May 2013, Southern Co. expects to face environmental challenges,Continue reading