Georgia Power got the ‘gold mine’ … we got the ‘shaft’


The headline read: “Southern Co. reports huge rise in profits.” The subhead reported: “$1.1 billion jump noted despite big financial hit from Vogtle delays.” I am not against seeing Georgia Power or its parent, the Southern Company, make ample money. Profits are essential for staying in business. And in their case, keeping investors happy.

The cojoined utilities are one of Georgia’s greatest assets. But the way Georgia Power, a state-sanctioned monopoly, is set up, it is guaranteed profitability. Pretty good deal, huh?

And that recent headline reminded me that there’s a country song for just about every situation.

Now, close your eyes and imagine Jerry Reed singing his 1982 chart-topper:

“… She got the goldmine

I got the shaft

They split it right down the middle

An’ then they gave her the better half

Well it all sounds sort o’ funny

But it hurts too much to laugh

She got the goldmine

And I got the shaft ….”

Now, open your eyes, and see (and hear) how Georgia Power is whining about why it can’t do the right thing with eight of its poisonous coal-ash ponds that are leaking into groundwater. Corporate spin masters are poormouthing and wailing, “It costs too much. Let’s just wait and see.”

The ivory-tower strategists must be confident that most Georgians will believe their theory that time will heal a toxic coal-ash sore, or they think we won’t mind drinking potentially tainted water. History supports the corporate-cocky attitude. The past tends to be a reliable predictor of the future. The General Assembly and the Public Service Commission have shown that what Georgia Power wants, Georgia Power gets almost every time.

As Jerry sings, “It hurts too much to laugh.”

Georgia Power enjoys the best protection money can buy. From top to bottom, check out Georgia’s leadership roster. And then check out the massive amounts of money that Georgia Power pours into campaign coffers. Don’t forget the mega bucks Georgia Power doles out to its army of lobbyists, perhaps the most-powerful influencers under the Gold Dome. Nationally, the Southern Company is one of the top utility companies in lobbyist spending. Its influencers are all over Washington and in every state that it serves.

Money talks.

Big money screams.

Georgia Power has done so many good and right things for our state. For decades, their men and women were always in the forefront of civic endeavors. Today’s corporate culture appears to be shifting to closure of local offices, centralized management and more focus on high-level lobbying. But in a crisis, you can be assured that those big white trucks—filled with brave and skilled personnel—will be rolling to our rescue. They are heroes.

And in my opinion, Georgia Power took a giant step—as an environmental hero—when it elected to move away from burning coal to generate electricity. But the visionary good deed falls short by leaving those eight unlined pits that are leaking and polluting our groundwater.


Georgia Power’s gurus must be forgetting that the company made billions burning coal, while neglecting the need to reinvest sufficient profits to completely clean up its toxic coal-ash mess. Where’s the good-deed logic in its kick-the-can-down-the-road plan?

The corporate mindset must be, “It’s more important to make more money.” And how many apologies have those same leaders offered for Plant Vogtle financial disasters? No worries. Georgia Power knows the ratepayers will pick up a big chunk of the multibillion-dollar tab for the mind-boggling cost overruns.

Sing it again, Jerry:

“… Well it all sounds sort o’ funny

But it hurts too much to laugh

She got the goldmine

And I got the shaft ….”

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: [email protected]. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.