This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Southern Co. Challenged On Nuclear Plant Costs

By RAY HENRY

ATLANTA (AP) â¿¿ A decision to absorb losses on an over-budget power plant in Mississippi may haunt Southern Co. now that it wants regulators to raise its construction budget for a nuclear power plant in Georgia.

Southern Co. executives fielded critical questions Thursday during their first testimony since announcing the firm could not meet its state-approved budget to build two more nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle (VOH'-gohl), southeast of Augusta. Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power has asked to raise the budget for its share of the massive project by $737 million to roughly $6.85 billion.

While costs have increased, Southern Co. officials said finishing the plant remains cheaper than the next alternative, building gas-fired power plants.

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols asked whether Southern Co. executives had considered an agreement like one reached in Mississippi. Faced with cost overruns while building Plant Ratcliffe in Mississippi's Kemper County, a showcase facility designed to capture much of the carbon dioxide produced while burning local coal to make electricity. Southern Co. agreed to take a $540 million loss on unexpected project costs rather than passing along those expenses to its customers. The utility recently announced it may face another $160 million in additional losses on the same plant.

"Is that something that you all are open to or talked about?" Echols asked two company executives.

Kyle Leach, director of resource policy and planning for Georgia Power, said he could not testify about the Mississippi agreement. Southern Co. has said that Georgia's utility regulators have the power to reject any project spending they deems imprudent. The utility has consistently opposed legislation and proposed rules that would have trimmed its profits if the project broke its budget.

Echols asked how the company did not consider as imprudent a problem in the installation of metal bars at the plant, an issue that delayed construction. The bars were installed in ways that differed from an approved design. The discrepancy forced Southern Co. to seek federal permission to change its designs. While the NRC approved the changes, the process slowed down construction.

1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

Jim Cramer's protégé, David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Dividend Stock Advisor

Jim Cramer's protégé, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!

Markets

DOW 17,164.95 -251.90 -1.45%
S&P 500 1,994.99 -26.26 -1.30%
NASDAQ 4,635.24 -48.1670 -1.03%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs