rough-and-tumble of Capitol Hill. Input is typically offered through written
comments or, occasionally, face-to-face meetings with agency staff. On Capitol
Hill, personal relationships can carry greater weight, he said.
However, Southern's lobbying ranks include several former top EPA officials, well versed in the technical nature of the agency's rule-making. Southern executives recently met with EPA officials at the Office of Management and Budget to discuss the impending new power plant rule, one of many meetings with utilities.
"EPA will use feedback from all of these meetings to develop common-sense approaches to limit (greenhouse gases) from existing power plants, which are among the biggest emitters of this harmful pollution," an agency spokesman said. "We look forward to hearing from Southern Company and others during this process."
Whatever the EPA does to regulate carbon emissions, it is almost certain to end up in court. And that should give Southern and its allies time to work for the election of a president who shares their views.
Obama's timetable calls for final regulations on existing power plants by June 2015, with states implementing them before he leaves office in 2017.
Said, Segal, the lobbyist for the electricity consortium: "I think that's very unlikely."
Southern Co. By The Numbers:
Customers: The company has several subsidiaries, including Georgia Power, Alabama Power and Gulf Power. It serves 4.4 million residential and business customers in four states. In Georgia, 2.4 million residential and business customers receive electricity through Georgia Power.
Profits: Each of Southern's utilities is a regulated monopoly, allowed to earn a predetermined return on equity Georgia Power's profit is 11.15 percent, but the utility is requesting that it be allowed to earn 11.5 percent. Southern Co.'s dividend currently is $2.03 per share annually. The divided increased in April 2012, marking the 12th consecutive year that this has happened. Southern has been paying its shareholders dividends for 262 quarters, or more than 64 years.
Lobbying spending: Spent $15.5 million lobbying in Washington D.C. in 2012, the highest annual tally on record for the company. The company has 53 federally-registered lobbyists stretching across 13 firms as well as the company's in-house staff.
Issues: Among the issues Southern lobbied on in Washington are climate change, nuclear issues, taxes on dividends, cybersecurity and new regulations stemming from the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that could require Southern Co. money down to cover complex derivative swaps.
Campaign Contributions: Since 1989, Southern Co. has donated more than $12 million to state and federal candidates, according to campaign records. An analysis by the Washington D.C.-based Sunlight Foundation found that 61 percent of Southern's donations went to Republican candidates and 34 percent to Democrats.
With federal action on climate change coming in September, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution looked at the role Southern Co. was playing in the Washington debate. The AJC sifted through more than a decade's worth of federal lobbying reports to provide a comprehensive look at the Atlanta-based utility giant's influence. The AJC looked at campaign contributions by Southern, poured through federal regulations and interviewed Washington lobbyists and analysts to paint a picture of what is at stake for the company. Kristi Swartz _ who has been covering utility issues on and off for 10 years _ also sat down for an exclusive interview with Southern CEO Tom Fanning.
(c)2013 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)
Visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) at www.ajc.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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