Policy Engagement and Advocacy - Overview

As a leading energy company, we value constructive relationships with policymakers to deliver clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy to our customers. We believe it is important to our business success to communicate with policymakers about the interests of our company, our customers, our employees, our stockholders and the communities that we serve. Southern Company engages directly with lawmakers and regulators and also participates in trade associations and industry groups that engage In lobbying and advocacy on various matters.

Southern Company has put in place decision-making and oversight processes for governmental relations activities to ensure that they are conducted in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations as well as Southern’s commitment to act with integrity in all of its activities. Both management and the Board play important roles in these governance processes. The Board receives an annual report on our political, lobbying and trade association activities and monitors Southern’s memberships in trade associations and industry groups that engage in lobbying efforts on our behalf.

We place great importance on consistent dialogue with all our stakeholders, including customers, regulators, employees and investors. We are receptive to stakeholder concerns, and we are committed to transparency and proactive interactions with our investors. In response to stakeholder interest in our policy engagement and advocacy efforts, we are undertaking a thorough review of our policies and disclosures and expect to publish updated information in fall 2021.

Southern Company’s Transition To Net Zero

Southern Company’s engagement with policy makers is aligned with our goal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The principles outlined below are representative of the views we express in our engagements.

Southern Company’s Transition to Net Zero

  • Taking care of our communities Southern Company is committed to continued engagement with federal, state and local leaders and other partners to tackle energy availability, resiliency and emissions reductions. We will ensure the equitable and just treatment of the communities and customers we serve as we pursue a safe, reliable and affordable net zero energy future. We are committed to ensuring fair access to energy, with a focus on assisting low income and disadvantaged communities.
  • Advancing the solution Climate change is real, and it is a pressing issue facing our world today. We set an ambitious goal to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, aligning with the objective of the Paris Agreement. Southern Company will engage with policymakers to achieve these goals.
  • Targeting net zero Southern Company believes the most efficient way to achieve economy-wide net zero emissions will include continued robust deployment of existing net zero solutions, continued clean energy innovation through increased investment in research, development, demonstration and deployment (RDD&D) of promising net zero solutions, and could also include carbon pricing mechanisms and / or trading programs.
  • Seeking to ensure a smart transition Southern Company believes natural gas plays a role in the economy wide net zero transition and in ensuring resilience. We are committed to developing and deploying solutions to keep natural gas viable as a foundational fuel for our customers through the use of carbon capture, use of next generation gas, renewable natural gas and methane reduction techniques to mitigate the carbon footprint. We recognize the importance of natural gas and its infrastructure as a tool that will continue to carry the nation’s energy sources to support the current economy and empower future business and industry. Natural gas plays an important role in facilitating the expanded use of renewable energy such as wind and solar.

Public Policy Advocacy Positions

Alignment with the paris agreement: The Paris Agreement is an opportunity for the U.S. to engage on a coordinated, global strategy to address the threat of climate change. Southern Company supports this objective by actively advancing a net zero goal in direct alignment with the commitments of this accord. We look forward to advancing our clean energy agenda, both independently as a publicly-held utility working closely with our customers and regulators, and with other policy makers as they work to carry out the U.S.’ nationally determined contribution (NDC) within the Agreement.

Effective carbon policy: Southern Company supports comprehensive, economy-wide legislation and policies to reduce climate change that could include a carbon pricing mechanism and / or trading program, provides RDD&D support, fosters workforce and community development, and promotes economic stability and growth. Any carbon pricing mechanism and / or trading program should account for geographically diverse energy mixes, recognize all low-, no- and negative-carbon solutions, and include compliance flexibility through provisions such as banking and cost containment mechanisms.

Promoting efficienct energy use: Southern Company supports efficient energy use as a primary tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including adoption and enforcement of cost-effective building codes and appliance standards. We promote efficient energy use through education, pricing, cost-effective energy efficiency programs, and providing solutions for economically vulnerable communities. Efficient energy use will provide growing benefits as we transition to net zero emissions.

Protecting customers: Southern Company believes it is critical for policymakers to consider the impacts to energy affordability, reliability, and safety. We are committed to ensuring fair access to energy for all customers and communities we serve, with a focus on assisting low income and disadvantaged communities.

Environmental justice: Southern Company is committed to the communities that we serve. As embodied in our Environmental Principles, our policy is to conduct business in ways that are protective of the environment, our neighbors, and our communities. We are committed to providing clean, safe, reliable, and affordable energy, and environmental justice considerations are a part of this commitment. The fair treatment and involvement of our neighbors and customers, including minority and low-income communities, is essential to support sustainable communities and minimize adverse impacts. We believe that the communities we serve should be better off because of our work – a goal bigger than the bottom line.

Promoting Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment: Southern Company believes the path to economy-wide net zero emissions is through robust RDD&D that enables net zero carbon emission solutions to be realized across various timeframes at equal or lower cost of service for energy customers compared to current conditions. We support establishing and expanding long-term stable funding in energy RDD&D that enables breakthrough technologies and strategies that optimize economy-wide outcomes and are critical to net zero goals.

Clean energy innovation: Southern Company is committed to advancing clean energy policy through federal legislation and regulatory initiatives to meet our long-term climate goals. We support technologies that can be deployed in a timely manner to meet our net zero goals and ensure energy remains reliable and affordable, including advanced renewables and new dispatchable resources, medium- and long-duration energy storage and advanced demand efficiency, zero-carbon fuels, advanced nuclear, and carbon capture use and storage.

Advancing evs & low emitting vehicles: Southern Company supports enhanced and extended federal funding and tax incentives to spur the adoption of low- and no- emitting vehicles, promote alternative vehicle charging infrastructure installation, and support additional R&D in vehicles, batteries, electric grid integration, and other non-vehicle equipment and services. As decarbonizing the transportation sector represents the single largest opportunity for greenhouse gas reductions, we believe a coordinated Federal-State-Local Government approach is essential for the success of this effort.

Tax policy flexibility: Southern Company supports equitable tax policy improvements, such as production tax credits and investment tax credits, that recognize the breadth of climate change solutions that achieve permanent carbon reductions, while establishing financial tools that provide optionality and flexibility. Investor-owned utilities, like Southern Company, can drive adoption of cleaner energy solutions with appropriate tax policy that eliminates unintended economic barriers to the deployment of low carbon technologies and reduces costs to customers.

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Lobbying Efforts Through Trade Associations

Working with and through trade associations, organizations and coalitions is an effective way to participate in the legislative and regulatory process. Through these efforts, we provide information to stakeholders, legislators and regulators (and their respective staffs) on complex legislative and regulatory issues that impact the energy industry. We aim to work closely with groups that are paving the way for cutting-edge, carbon-free technologies and organizations focused on developing constructive, durable carbon policies that will help achieve economy-wide, net-zero emissions.

Given the breadth of business issues on which trade associations and organizations are engaged, Southern Company does not always agree with or endorse all positions taken by the organizations, associations, groups and coalitions where it is a member. As part of our governance to ensure policy alignment with business objectives, we routinely assess our participation in trade associations and industry groups.

Southern Company made payments of $50,000 or more in 2019 to trade associations and coalitions engaged in lobbying-related activities as disclosed in the table below. Additional information about our membership in trade associations, organizations and collaborative groups that are likely to influence climate-related public policy is provided in Section C12.3c of our annual CDP response which can be found here.

2019 Trade Association Report
Contribution Recipient Amount Used for Political Purposes
U.S. Chamber of Commerce 567,500
Edison Electric Institute 438,240
Energy Forward (formerly Electricity Reliability Coordinating Council) 194,192
Business Roundtable 120,000
Nuclear Energy Institute 61,836
American Gas Association 43,361
National Association of Manufacturers 41,524
Interstate Natural Gas Association 33,963
America's Power 30,000
America's Wind Energy Association 6,932
Total $1,537,548

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Political Contributions

Southern Company and its subsidiaries comply with all laws governing the making of political contributions or expenditures, including independent expenditures, using corporate funds in connection with elections for public office. Any use of corporate funds to make political contributions or independent expenditures (as defined by applicable law) in connection with elections for public office must be approved in advance by the Chief Executive Officer, the senior External Affairs Officer and the General Counsel (if applicable) of the Southern Company entity making the disbursement.

Our belief in government, respect for the democratic process and adherence to the rule of law always have been part of our core principles. We are constantly evaluating our engagement efforts with policy makers to ensure they are informed by these ideals and adhere to the uncompromising values we follow as a business – honesty, respect, fairness, integrity and the value of diversity.

Southern Company contributions in 2019 were as follows:

2019 Political Contributions Report
Contribution Recipient Amount
Democratic Governors Association 100,000
Ripon Society 58,500
Republican Governors Association 50,000
The Congressional Institute 27,500
Republican State Leadership Committee 12,500
Total $248,500

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