David M. Ratcliffe
David M. Ratcliffe has been chairman, president, and chief executive officer of the Southern Company since 2004. Southern Company is the second largest producer of coal-fired energy in the United States. Prior to heading Southern, Ratliffe was CEO of its largest subsidiary Georgia Power, starting in 1999. Prior to running Georgia Power, Ratcliffe was CEO of Mississippi Power, another Southern Company subsidiary.
Ratcliffe joined Georgia Power in 1971 as a biologist, coordinating environmental monitoring and compliance programs in and around power plants. He received his bachelor's degree in biology from Valdosta State University in 1970 and his law degree from Woodrow Wilson College of Law in 1975.
Ratcliffe is a member of the following boards:
- Edison Electric Institute (Director) (Vice Chair; Chair Elect 6/2008-6/2009)
- Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (Director 2002-2007; Chair, 2004-2006)
- CSX Transportation (Director)
- Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education
- Georgia Chamber of Commerce (Chair, 2005)
- Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce
- Georgia Research Alliance (Chair, 2005-2006)
- Woodruff Arts Center (Trustee; Chair, 2004 Campaign)
In May 2007, Forbes listed Ratcliffe as receiving $3.67 million in total compensation for the latest fiscal year, with a three-year total compensation of $13.18 million. He ranked 25th on the list of CEOs in the Utilities industry, and 349th among all CEOs in the United States.
Ratcliffe Profiled in Rolling Stone Magazine
In the January 2010 edition of Rolling Stone Magazine, journalist Tim Dickinson profiled the top 17 United States "polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb global warming". Below is an excerpt from the article titled "Climate Killers" about David M. Ratcliffe.
- Ratcliffe, the head of America's second-dirtiest electric utility, has assembled an army of 63 lobbyists — almost twice as many as any other company — to defeat climate legislation. It's a pro-carbon dream team, anchored by Jeffrey Holmstead of Rudy Giuliani's law firm, who worked on behalf of utilities like Southern as a top clean-air official under George W. Bush. The reason for the lobbying blitz: Southern burns a lot of coal — its largest plant produces more carbon pollution than all of Brazil's power plants combined — and new limits on emissions being considered by the Senate could cost the utility some $400 million a year. That's why Ratcliffe continues to deny the reality of global warming: "I don't believe there's an impending catastrophe," he says, insisting that the environment will simply "adapt to changing realities."
- "The value of his stock trumps everything," says Carl Pope, head of the Sierra Club. "It's hard to imagine a more cynical attitude. But no doubt he genuinely sees it that way — his bottom line is the measure of the world."
Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Southern Company coal plants
In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants. Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.
Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Southern Company coal plants
|Type of Impact||Annual Incidence||Valuation|
|Heart attacks||1,710||$186.3 million|
|Asthma attacks||20,770||$1.1 million|
|Hospital admissions||871||$19.8 million|
|Chronic bronchitis||752||$333.5 million|
|Asthma ER visits||1,255||$0.5 million|
Source: "Health Impacts - annual - of Existing Plants," Clean Air Task Force Excel worksheet, available under "Data Annex" at "Death and Disease from Power Plants," Clean Air Task Force. Note: This data includes the following plants owned by Southern Company and subsidiaries Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power, and Savannah Electric & Power: Barry, Gaston, Gorgas, Greene County, Miller (Alabama Power); Bowen, Hammond, Harllee Branch, Jack McDonough, Mitchell, Scherer, Wansley, Yates (Georgia Power); Crist, Lansing Smith, Scholz (Gulf Power); Jack Watson and Victor J. Daniel Jr. (Mississippi Power); Kraft, McIntosh (Savannah Electric & Power).
Proposed coal plants
- Kemper Project (Mississippi) - sponsored by Southern Company subsidiary Mississippi Power
- Seminole 3 (Florida)
- Stanton Energy Center (Florida)
- Taylor Energy Center, Alternative Proposal (Florida)
Existing coal-fired power plants
11 of these plants, totalling 16,071 MW of generation, are among the nation's dirtiest in terms of SO2 emissions. In 2006, Southern's 22 coal-fired power plants emitted 165.9 million tons of CO2 (2.75% of all U.S. CO2 emissions) and 1,150,000 tons of SO2 (7.67% of all U.S. SO2 emissions).
|Plant Name||State||County||Year(s) Built||Capacity||2007 CO2 Emissions||2006 SO2 Emissions|
|Scherer||GA||Monroe||1982, 1984, 1987, 1989||3564 MW||25,300,000 tons||74,205 tons|
|Bowen||GA||Bartow||1971, 1972, 1974, 1975||3499 MW||20,500,000 tons||206,442 tons|
|Miller||AL||Jefferson||1978, 1985, 1989, 1991||2822 MW||20,600,000 tons||53,379 tons|
|Gaston||AL||Shelby||1960, 1961, 1962, 1974||2013 MW||12,200,000 tons||130,494 tons|
|Wansley||GA||Heard||1976, 1978||1904 MW||11,900,000 tons||96,200 tons|
|Barry||AL||Mobile||1954, 1959, 1969, 1971||1771 MW||12,800,000 tons||52,621 tons|
|Harllee Branch||GA||Putnam||1965, 1967, 1968, 1969||1746 MW||7,551,000 tons||95,990 tons|
|Yates||GA||Coweta||1950, 1952, 1957, 1958, 1974||1487 MW||6,095,000 tons||75,476 tons|
|Gorgas||AL||Walker||1951, 1952, 1956, 1958, 1972||1417 MW||8,258,000 tons||81,268 tons|
|Crist||FL||Escambia||1959, 1961, 1970, 1973||1135 MW||5,737,000 tons||35,614 tons|
|Victor J. Daniel||MS||Jackson||1977, 1981||1000 MW||9,094,000 tons||31,767 tons|
|Hammond||GA||Floyd||1954, 1955, 1970||953 MW||4,098,000 tons||40,579 tons|
|Jack Watson||MS||Harrison||1968, 1973||750 MW||5,075,000 tons||29,113 tons|
|Jack McDonough||GA||Cobb||1963, 1964||598 MW||3,213,000 tons||28,835 tons|
|Greene County||AL||Greene||1965, 1966||568 MW||3,760,000 tons||37,863 tons|
|Lansing Smith||FL||Bay||1965, 1967||340 MW||3,792,000 tons||48,776 tons|
|Birchwood||VA||King George||1996||258 MW||1,642,000 tons||N/A|
|Kraft||GA||Chatham||1958, 1961, 1965||208 MW||1,357,000 tons||4,658 tons|
|McIntosh||GA||Effingham||1979||178 MW||1,176,000 tons||5,713 tons|
|Mitchell||GA||Dougherty||1964||163 MW||443,000 tons||4,938 tons|
|Gadsden||AL||Etowah||1949||138 MW||733,000 tons||10,062 tons|
|Scholz||FL||Jackson||1953||98 MW||531,000 tons||5,920 tons|
- Existing U.S. Coal Plants
- Chief Executive Officer, Southern Company, accessed November 2008.
- CEO Compensation: #349 David M Ratcliffe, Forbes.com, May 3, 2007.
- "The Climate Killers" Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone Magazine, January 2010.
- "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
- "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
- "Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005", Energy Information Administration website, accessed April 2008.
- Environmental Integrity Project, Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants, July 2007.
- Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed Aug. 2008.
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