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Three men brought life to an American legacy by seeing what others could not–
and harnessed the courage of their collective will to electrify an underdeveloped region and inspire a growing workforce.
James Mitchell had done it before–developing hydroelectric dams and electric tramways in the wilds of South America–and now he stood before yet another untouched landscape, in the Deep South of the United States. And Mitchell saw the possibilities, and he knew where to find the money that would make them real.
Soon he was committing his ideas to paper, and his energy to an enterprise. He envisioned a vast interconnected network of dams and transmission lines bringing prosperity to a part of the country that sorely needed it, and before long, he had become personally invested in making it happen.
But much is demanded of dreamers, and Mitchell could not do it alone. He recruited the young attorney Thomas Martin, whose exhaustive work ethic–much like Mitchell’s–helped bring strength and substance to the fledgling company. Martin steered the firm through a number of legal, financial and political challenges, and when Mitchell died at the untimely age of 54, Martin assumed the helm, and spent the next five decades as one of the guiding industrial forces of the American South.
If Mitchell and Martin represented the soul of the company, then Preston Arkwright provided its heart. The Georgia Power president coined the term “A Citizen Wherever We Serve” and defined the character of the business for generations to come. He believed that a sacred trust existed between an electric provider and its customers, and employees found great meaning in that simple concept. Arkwright’s values became the foundation for Southern Company’s signature commitment to customers and communities, and framed a corporate identity that went far beyond turbines and wires.
The sacrifices of visionaries often go unnoticed, but their effect on posterity cannot be denied. Mitchell, Martin and Arkwright–each in his own unique fashion–pioneered a way through uncharted territory and forged a path for others to follow. And follow it they did.
A diverse portfolio is the key to America’s energy future–and Southern Company
is charting the course for an entire nation.
It’s perhaps the most basic rule of equity investing–never put all your money into just one stock. And the same principle applies in planning for electric generation.
Southern Company, through its operating subsidiaries, is the only electric utility in America that is building a truly diverse generation portfolio, one that makes use of all available fuel sources. We’re building the first new U.S. nuclear units in a generation of Americans at Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle. We’ve developed 21st century coal technology that we will use at Mississippi Power’s facility in Kemper County, Mississippi, in 2014. We’re replacing several coal-fired units with
cleaner-burning natural gas. We’re adding renewable generation in the form of solar, wind and biomass. And we’re raising the bar on energy efficiency, with plans to spend $1 billion through 2020 to help customers use our product more effectively.
All of this takes time, and planning, and, yes–vision. Our engineers are continuously projecting energy demand over 10- and 20-year horizons, and devising the best combination of clean, safe, reliable, affordable generation to meet that demand. In the process, we focus on maintaining the greatest possible flexibility, so that we can adjust our generation mix in the face of changing environmental and economic considerations.
It’s all designed with the same end in mind–to better serve customers while continuing to foster the growth of strong, healthy communities. After all, that’s what our founders taught us to do–and so far, it’s worked pretty well.