Southern Company Considers Forming Regional Transmission Group

ATLANTA – Southern Company and its operating subsidiaries of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric will hold public meetings this month to discuss a proposal for creating a regional transmission organization.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order in December 1999 requiring all investor-owned utilities subject to FERC regulation to file a proposal on how they would create or join a regional transmission organization (RTO), or describe any barriers to joining or forming such a group. Filings must be made with FERC by October 16.

The RTO would plan, operate and control transmission systems. FERC believes more is needed to move the industry toward more competitive wholesale power markets. Separating the control of transmission and operations from generation and marketing, according to FERC, would ensure that all suppliers who need access to the transmission grid are treated fairly.

Southern Company has been developing its proposed RTO filing with FERC for several months. As part of the process, the company has been meeting with the Georgia Transmission Corporation, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities – all participants in Georgia’s Integrated Transmission System.

“We believe we have and continue to do an excellent job in operating our transmission system in a manner that is fair to all users,” said Ed Holland, president and CEO of Savannah Electric and head of Southern Company’s RTO effort. “However, we also believe a properly developed RTO can increase competitiveness and may ultimately benefit the customer. Our priority in considering the joining of an RTO is to ensure that we maintain highly reliable, cost-effective service. We want to ensure that all customers in our service areas are better off as a result of our participation.”

At present, Southern Company is considering the formation of a for-profit company that would have control of the planning and operations of the bulk power transmission systems of the participating utilities. The individual operating companies of Southern Company would retain ownership of the transmission lines for now. Other utilities that agree to participate could also retain ownership of their lines or could lease or sell those facilities to the RTO.

While all the details of Southern Company’s proposed RTO filing have not been worked out, the company is far enough along in the process to begin gathering input from the public and others. The first of two sessions will be held September 14 in Atlanta at the Hyatt Regency downtown in the Regency IV meeting room. A second session will be September 27 in Birmingham, Ala., at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center in South Meeting Room J. Each session will begin at 10 a.m. local time and end at 4 p.m.

The first meeting will provide a general overview of what is being considered. The second meeting will cover more specifics of the proposal. Members of the public or media who plan to attend either or both sessions should contact David King at 404-506-0267.

“The feedback and comments we receive at these sessions will be considered as we prepare the October filing proposal with FERC,” said Holland. “And we will continue to seek input from stakeholders and the general public after the filing as plans become more certain.”

Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is an international energy company that operates more than 48,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity worldwide. It is the largest producer of electricity in the United States and one of the world`s largest independent power producers. Southern Company subsidiaries and their affiliates serve 12 million retail customers worldwide and millions more through the wholesale market. Based in Atlanta, Southern Company is the parent firm of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric.