It's another year, and readers of this website may have noticed some recent changes, online and in print. Of course, the most obvious is our name change, from Southeast Construction to ENR Southeast. That's a pretty big change for us. But if you take a look, you'll see that much remains the same.

And that brings us to our latest announcement for our annual "Owner of the Year." This year, for its accomplishments during the previous year, ENR Southeast is excited to announce that ENR editors have designated energy company Southern Company of Atlanta as this year's "Owner of the Year."

One of the criteria that ENR editors used in assessing the candidates for the "Owner of the Year" designation was the amount of construction that the project owners moved forward on during 2010. Southern earned significant consideration for the recognition with its start of the multi-billion-dollar Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Waynesboro, Ga., the first new nuclear plant to be commissioned in the United States in more than two decades. (The capital investment has been reported at more than $14 billion.)

There were other considerations as well, though. Southern Company is striving to become an industry leader in carbon capture and carbon sequestration technologies, and moving forward on efforts to burn biomass instead of coal. (The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just announced that biomass would be exempt from regulations on carbon pollution.)

Of course, there are many changes occurring with and among almost all of today's energy providers. Government regulations are causing much of this industry change, and firms are adapting in ways that will have significant impacts on all project owners in the years ahead. The recent announcement that Duke Energy of Charlotte, N.C., is buying Raleigh, N.C.-based Progress Energy was an example of how these power companies are working to position themselves for the changes coming their way.

In fact, Duke Energy was another candidate for the "Owner of the Year" designation, and that firm has undertaken similar strides to push new energy initiatives such as more nuclear and several renewable energy efforts. But Southern's gutsy decision to move forward with its Vogtle plant project -- backed by about $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees -- clinched the deal.

At a time when the Southeast's construction industry is sagging, and other owners are staying on the sidelines with their plans, moving forward on such a massive project means a lot.

Of course, there's more to this story. ENR Southeast will feature Southern Company in our March issue. In the meantime, feel free to offer your comments on this year's "Owner of the Year" selection.

And best of luck in 2011!

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