Southern Co. recently announced that it has installed 1 million smart meters, achieving a milestone in an advanced electricity metering program that will eventually see 4.4 million meters in place for its customers across the southeastern United States.

The program, which integrates advanced metering, communications and other innovative technologies to provide superior cus-tomer service at reduced operating costs, is producing direct benefits for the customer, the environment and the company, while positioning the company to employ additional features of the technology in the future.

The initiative began in January 2008 and will deploy smart meters for customers of Southern Co.’s electric utility subsidiar-ies Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Mississippi Power. The company is installing about 4,500 meters each day.

In addition to reducing operating costs that can help keep rates lower for customers, the company expects the program to lessen environmental impact. Southern Co., for example, expects to reduce the vehicle fleet used for meter reading by at least 500, saving 12.5 million miles of driving annually and producing direct benefits in lower vehicle emissions.

Southern Co.’s program is based on the Sensus FlexNet Advanced Metering Infrastructure network, which uses technology that allows for features including meter reading for monthly billing, two-way communication between customers and the company, out-age detection, and remote reconnects and disconnects.