Southern Company reports CEO received millions more in pay last year

Atlanta-based Southern Company, the parent of Georgia Power, gave chief executive officer Tom Fanning millions of dollars in additional pay last year as the company logged gains in its stock price and financial picture. This year has been much tougher for many companies grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM
Atlanta-based Southern Company, the parent of Georgia Power, gave chief executive officer Tom Fanning millions of dollars in additional pay last year as the company logged gains in its stock price and financial picture. This year has been much tougher for many companies grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

The chief executive of Southern Company, which includes Georgia Power, was awarded millions of dollars more in pay last year as stock values and profits increased.

Tom Fanning’s total compensation more than doubled to $27.9 million in 2019, though most of that jump was tied to a nearly $12 million boost in the value of his pension, the company reported this week. Still, excluding that, Fanning’s pay jumped 30%, up $3.7 million in a single year.

Most of Fanning's pay last year was tied to Southern's financial gains and shareholder returns, which bested those of many utilities. Company directors, in their assessment of Fanning's performance, also concluded that Southern made progress in 2019 on the multibillion-dollar expansion of Plant Vogtle, a project that was already years behind its original schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

Directors also credited Fanning for gains with government regulators, which included winning approval late last year for a rate hike in Georgia.

In addition, Southern added measures last year to reward Fanning for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that have been tied to climate change. Directors said in an company filing Monday that Southern is "trending favorably" toward a 2030 goal of a 50% reduction.

For many U.S. companies and CEOs, 2020 will be tough as they grapple with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The financial impact is hitting as public companies prep for annual meetings with shareholders and comply with requirements to disclose last year's pay for top executives.

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