Southern Company is committed to providing clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy for our customers. Historically our average electricity prices have increased at or below the rate of inflation. We are focused on the topic of energy burden across all customers, especially those who are income challenged. Maintaining affordability fosters high customer satisfaction, financial strength and constructive regulatory treatment. Effectively understanding and addressing the financial priorities of our customers, investors and regulators should help facilitate our transition toward a net zero future.
In 2019, the average electric retail price for customers in Southern Company’s footprint was more than 10% below the national average, and our natural gas prices remain lower than regional peers. Customer satisfaction across our electric and natural gas utilities is in the top quartile nationally.
Affordability and efficiency go hand-in-hand as evidenced by several of our low-income assistance programs. Mississippi Power’s SELECT (Low-Income) program provides education and promotion of energy efficiency as well as installation of energy savings measures to income-qualified customers. Georgia Power’s Home Energy Efficiency Assistance Programs promote energy efficiency improvements in existing income-qualified single-family homes and multi-family properties and have supplied thousands of qualified customers statewide with a free energy efficiency kit.
We also recognize that, in some cases, direct assistance is needed to help customers pay their bills. Project SHARE provides emergency assistance to our neighbors in Georgia who need help with basic necessities, including utility services, through customer pledges on monthly utility bills. The program assists customers who are elderly, disabled, unemployed, or sick and others who are experiencing financial hardship. In addition, our Atlanta Gas Light subsidiary works with organizations across Georgia to provide energy assistance funds. One key organization, the Heating Energy Assistance Team (HEAT), has been helping low-income families and individuals pay their heating bill for nearly four decades. HEAT works with concerned citizens, businesses, and state and local government to ensure those in need don’t have to sacrifice a warm home when their budget is tight. The work they are doing in the community is making a difference in people’s lives across the state, and we’re proud to support their mission for a brighter, warmer Georgia.