On the heels of a shareholder resolution filed by As You Sow — which asked Southern Company to consider the presidential administration’s goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 — Southern Company has agreed to produce a comprehensive report on the company’s renewable energy projects and its future plans to integrate more renewable energy into its operations.
“To achieve that goal, utilities need to immediately shift away from coal towards distributed and renewable energy,” said Amelia Timbers, energy program manager, As You Sow. “The agreement with Southern shows that a shift in the trajectory of the electric utility industry toward a healthy, low carbon fuel mix is underway. In the last earnings call, investors wanted to know Southern’s plans for solar. Now they will have that data.”
Southern Company pledged to provide shareholders with information about its existing renewable and distributed generation assets, and to describe new projects that will be brought online by 2015.
As a result of the agreement, the shareholder resolution has been withdrawn.
Southern Company’s actions should be a wake-up call to other utilities, public utility commissions, and politicians, As You Sow said.
“As the cost of renewables continues to plummet, and companies are forced to absorb more of coal’s high societal costs, you will see more utilities following Southern and FirstEnergy’s lead,” Timbers predicts. “Electric utilities are beginning to capture the value offered by the low carbon economy.”