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Why Does a Massively Profitable, Fossil-Fuel-Burning Utility Need Taxpayer-Funded Welfare?

1 min. read

We often question why highly profitable fossil fuel companies receive subsidies - both implicit and explicit -  and favors of various kinds. Today, we came across yet another example of what we're talking about.

Southern Co said on Wednesday it was willing to complete the first new U.S. nuclear reactors being built in three decades without federal loan support, as talks on an $8.3 billion loan guarantee drag on.

Southern Chief Executive Officer Tom Fanning said talks with the U.S. Energy Department were going slowly, and no resolution was in sight after new requirements were added to a conditional loan guarantee following the bankruptcy of solar panel maker Solyndra, which had received $500 million in loan guarantees.

The question is, why does an enormous corporation like Southern Company, with $17.7 billion of revenues, $2.2 billion in profits, and total assets of $59.3 billion in 2011, need taxpayer-funded welfare at all?  Don't we have better uses for that money in these times of tight budgets, deficits, and pressing needs in so many other areas, rather than subsidizing a company which generates the vast majority of its electricity from fossil fuels (coal and natural gas), and which also has been identified as "the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the U.S. utility industry, with an annual tally of 172 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent gases?" It sure seems like it to us.