ATLANTA, Jan. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Electric Light & Power magazine has designated Southern Company its Utility of the Year for the company's demonstrated leadership in the electric utility industry in 2012. Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning accepted the award yesterday at the Electric Light & Power Executive Conference in San Diego. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20080801/SOCOLOGO ) "Southern Company's success is a direct result of a business model predicated on putting our customers at the center of everything we do," said Fanning. "This recognition is a testament to the 26,000 hard-working employees who put our customers' interests first while providing clean, safe, reliable and affordable power." Electric Light & Power recognized Southern Company as the top utility for its outstanding performance in market capitalization, innovation, construction, job creation and customer satisfaction. Southern Company has committed $20 billion toward securing America's energy future through the development of the full portfolio of energy resources – new nuclear, 21 st century coal, natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency. This investment is estimated to create around a quarter of a million jobs in the Southeast. As part of its commitment to developing the full portfolio, Southern Company, through subsidiary Georgia Power, is leading the nation's nuclear renaissance by being the first to build new nuclear units in more than 30 years with the construction of Plant Vogtle units 3 & 4 in Georgia. The only company in the U.S. energy industry today committed to robust, proprietary research and development, Southern Company is conducting cutting-edge research at the nation's only carbon-capture research center, as well as the nation's only mercury research center associated with power generation. In addition, Southern Company has found a way forward for coal in America with the development of Transport Integrated Gasification (TRIG™), a 21 st century coal technology that uses an abundant, low-cost fuel – low-rank coal – to generate electricity with efficient operations and reduced emissions. TRIG ™ will be used in Southern Company subsidiary Mississippi Power's 582-megawatt (MW) Kemper County energy facility. As a result of its customer-focused approach, all four of Southern Company's operating companies rank in the top quartile among U.S. utilities for customer satisfaction, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Customer Value Benchmark Studies and TQS Key Accounts National Benchmark. Southern Company, through its subsidiaries, strives to put a face on the company in every community it serves. This includes operating 260 local offices across their service territories, making it possible for virtually any customer to walk into one of the company's offices and receive in-person service from a local representative. As part of the company's commitment to improving the communities it serves, thousands of company employees and retirees dedicate more than 200,000 hours annually to community service.