Southern Energy Inc. opens new European business development offices

Southern Energy Inc., a unit of Southern Company, has opened new business development offices in Milan, Italy, and Zurich, Switzerland, bringing the number of business development offices in continental Europe to four.

“Southern Energy intends to become a major player in the wholesale energy markets of Europe as they open to increased competition under the European Union’s Electricity Directive,” said Barney Rush, president and chief executive of Southern Energy’s Europe Group.

“Our presence in Milan and Zurich is evidence of our commitment to an asset-backed trading strategy in the liberalizing markets of Western Europe,” Rush said. “We’re seeking to leverage our risk-management skills – which distinguish Southern Energy from the more-traditional utility companies – to help make our customers more competitive in the newly liberalized marketplace.” Southern Energy’s trading organization, which began operations last year in Amsterdam, markets electricity and related commodities in Europe’s wholesale energy markets. Southern Energy believes the market for wholesale electricity will grow dramatically in the coming years as cross-border transactions for large amounts of power increase among European Union nations. Connected to the company’s trading strategy is a continued effort to own, manage or control generation assets.

“We are seeking to acquire or build power generation facilities near key European markets,” said Jason Harlan, vice president for European business development. “These new offices – along with our current offices in Amsterdam and Berlin – will be vital in our efforts to identify and explore opportunities to expand our wholesale energy trading operations across the continent. Acquiring generation assets will strengthen our trading business, which will, in turn, help maximize the profitability of our power plants by marketing their output.”

Harlan noted that Southern Energy has successfully integrated its network of U.S. power plants with its Atlanta-based trading business to become one of the five largest electricity marketers in North America. “We believe this strategy can be adapted for our European operations as well, helping Southern Energy achieve its goal of becoming one of the continent’s premier energy suppliers,” he said. The Milan office will be managed by John Chillemi and the Zurich office will be managed by Lee Davis, both veterans of Southern Energy’s project development and energy trading and marketing organizations. All four Southern Energy offices will focus on seeking power-sales agreements with major wholesale and industrial customers in their regions, in addition to exploring opportunities to buy and build power plants.

“Europe is poised for significant and rapid change in its energy markets under the EU directive,” Rush said. “The liberalization of Europe’s power markets will result in more efficient and more competitively priced electric service, while providing enormous growth opportunities for companies like Southern Energy.”

Southern Energy Inc. – with operations in 12 countries on five continents – develops, builds, owns and operates power production and delivery facilities and provides a broad range of services to utilities and industrial companies around the world. Its Southern Company Energy Marketing unit provides energy trading, marketing and financial services and other energy-related commodities, products and services to customers in North America.

Southern Energy’s subsidiaries and affiliates include Freeport Power Co. in the Bahamas; Western Power Distribution in England; Bewag, the electric utility serving Berlin, Germany; EDELNOR, the power producer serving northern Chile; CEMIG, an electric utility in Brazil; the Power Generation Company of Trinidad and Tobago; the Alicura power station in Argentina; the Southern Energy Europe energy trading operation, based in the Netherlands; Consolidated Electric Power Asia, with operations in the Philippines, China and Australia; and U.S. power stations in Massachusetts, New York, Texas, California, Virginia and Indiana.

Southern Company (NYSE: SO), the largest producer of electricity in the United States, is also the parent firm of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric.