The Southern and AGL merger and the questions it raises

Construction on Georgia Power's expansion.

Construction on Georgia Power’s expansion of Plant Vogtle in east Georgia.

Southern Company, the electric utility giant, announced Monday it will acquire the massive natural gas company AGL Resources in a blockbuster merger of Atlanta-based Fortune 500 companies.

The deal – valued with debt at about $12 billion – will bring together a dominant Southeastern power company with one of the nation’s biggest gas sellers and pipeline companies to create the nation’s second-largest utility, the companies said.

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported this morning, the combined business will include 11 regulated electric and natural gas distribution companies, serving approximately 9 million customers in nine states.

The companies will hold a joint press conference at noon about the future of the combined enterprise. And there will be many questions to answer.

Stay with the AJC for complete coverage of the merger at, and in print.

Here are some of the questions that we hope to answer for readers in the days ahead:

  • How will the merger affect consumers? Will the combining of these two Atlanta companies result in more expensive or cheaper energy sources for consumers? Will it provide new services or choices for customers, or fewer?
  • How will the merger affect employees of the two companies? AGL, which will maintain its headquarters in Atlanta, will become a subsidiary of Southern. Though both energy companies serve similar geographic regions, they are in two different businesses. But the headquarters of both companies are in Atlanta, and might some of the financial appeal of the merger have to do employee overlap that could lead to downsizing? We’ll try to find out.
  • The deal will require approval from various regulatory agencies. Might those agencies require some divestitures of assets as part of the approval process?
  • The merger brings together two of Atlanta’s biggest corporate citizens: Will that have an effect on the corporate giving and other philanthropic support that Atlanta has grown accustomed to from these two companies?
  • By buying a natural gas company, what does the move mean for the future of Southern Company’s energy mix? Southern has been trending away from coal and toward natural gas as well as nuclear in recent years given pending federal environmental standards. What will this mean going forward?

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