The company began operations in the early 20th century as the demand for electricity started to increase in the United States. As of 2018, the Southern Company sold around 196 terawatt hours of electricity. Since its establishment, the Southern Company has also gone onto acquire companies including Alabama Power, Georgia Power and Gulf Power. Southern Company subsidiaries operate using hydroelectric, gas, coal, and nuclear sources in order to generate electricity. Its other subsidiaries include Southern Telecom which provides collocation and dark fiber optic lines to network businesses. Southern Company and its subsidiaries are currently serving over nine million customers in the Southeast of the United States.
As a coal-burning energy company, greenhouse gas emissions are one of its primary environmental concerns. According to a 2017 study, conducted by the University of Massachusetts, the Southern Company is the largest greenhouse gas emitter among U.S. corporations, with 99 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Southern Company has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy on various environmental research programs.