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
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

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

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

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
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

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
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, 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
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

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

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
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!
DOW 17,122.01 +15.31 0.09%
S&P 500 2,000.12 +0.10 0.00%
NASDAQ 4,569.6210 -1.0160 -0.02%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

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