Nuclear power would have long ago set us free from OPEC and Joe Biden-types.
JEFF AMY Updated Mon, July 31, 2023 at 5:34 PM EDT
ATLANTA (AP) — The first American nuclear reactor to be built from scratch in decades is sending electricity reliably to the grid, but the cost of the Georgia power plant could discourage utilities from pursuing nuclear power as a path to a carbon-free future.
Georgia Power Co. announced Monday that Unit 3 at Plant Vogtle, southeast of Augusta, has completed testing and is now in commercial operation, seven years late and $17 billion over budget.
At its full output of 1,100 megawatts of electricity, Unit 3 can power 500,000 homes and businesses. A number of other utilities in Georgia, Florida and Alabama are receiving the electricity, in addition to the 2.7 million customers of Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power.
"This hadn’t been done in this country from start to finish in some 30-plus years," Chris Womack, CEO of Atlanta-based Southern Co. said Monday in a telephone interview. “So to do this, to get this done, to get this done right, is a wonderful accomplishment for our company, for the state and for the customers here in Georgia.”
A fourth reactor is also nearing completion at the site, where two earlier reactors have been generating electricity for decades. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Friday said radioactive fuel could be loaded into Unit 4, a step expected to take place before the end of September. Unit 4 is scheduled to enter commercial operation by March.
The third and fourth reactors were originally supposed to cost $14 billion, but are now on track to cost their owners $31 billion. That doesn’t include $3.7 billion that original contractor Westinghouse paid to the owners to walk away from the project. That brings total spending to almost $35 billion.
The third reactor was supposed to start generating power in 2016 when construction began in 2009.
Vogtle is important because government officials and some utilities are again looking to nuclear power to alleviate climate change by generating electricity without burning natural gas, coal and oil. But most focus in the U.S. currently is on smaller nuclear reactors, which advocates hope can be built without the cost and schedule overruns that have plagued Vogtle. For its part, Womack said Southern Co. isn't looking to add any more reactors to its fleet.
“In terms of us making additional investments, at this time is not something that we’re going to do, but I do think others in this country should move in that direction,” Womack said.
In Georgia, almost every electric customer will pay for Vogtle. Georgia Power currently owns 45.7% of the reactors. Smaller shares are owned by Oglethorpe Power Corp., which provides electricity to member-owned cooperatives, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and the city of Dalton. Oglethorpe and MEAG plan to sell power to cooperatives and municipal utilities across Georgia, as well in Jacksonville, Florida, and parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
Georgia Power’s residential customers are projected to pay more than $926 apiece as part of an ongoing finance charge and elected public service commissioners have approved a rate increase. Residential customers will pay $4 more per month as soon as the third unit begins generating power. That could hit bills in August, two months after residential customers saw a $16-a-month increase to pay for higher fuel costs.
The high construction costs have wiped out any future benefit from low nuclear fuel costs in the future, experts have repeatedly testified before commissioners.
“The cost increases and schedule delays have completely eliminated any benefit on a life-cycle cost basis,” Tom Newsome, director of utility finance for the commission, testified Thursday in a Georgia Public Service Commission hearing examining spending.
The utility will face a fight from longtime opponents of the plant, many of whom note that power generated from solar and wind would be cheaper. They say letting Georgia Power make ratepayers pay for mistakes will unfairly bolster the utility’s profits.
“While capital-intensive and expensive projects may benefit Georgia Power’s shareholders who have enjoyed record profits throughout Vogtle’s beleaguered construction, they are not the least-cost option for Georgians who are feeling the sting of repeated bill increases,” Southern Environmental Law Center staff attorney Bob Sherrier said in a statement.
Commissioners will decide later who pays for the remainder of the costs of Vogtle, including the fourth reactor. Customers will pay for the share of spending that commissioners determine was prudent, while the company and its shareholders will have to pay for spending commissioners decide was wasteful.
Georgia Power CEO Kim Greene said the company hasn't decided how much it will ask customers to pay.
“That will be determined as we move closer and closer to our prudence filing, but we have not made a final determination," Greene said.
They hit 100% output Monday.
First plant in 30 years!
I've been selling puts every week now for a couple of months. SO is one of my favorites!
Buying opps on the dips on SO I am. This is likely to be $100+ stock in 12-24 months as the Vogler plants go online. Lots of news to love on $SO :
The FED interest rates and market are bringing us bargains, and SO is already a screaming buy... So swan dive dips like right now, are short term and long term buys IMO.
Loving the $SO leftovers I am
Southern CO (NYSE:SO) declares $0.68/share quarterly dividend, in line with previous.
Forward yield 3.8%
Payable Sept. 6; for shareholders of record Aug. 15; ex-div Aug. 12.
Here's my prediction. NextEra (NEE) will buy Santee Cooper from South Carolina because the SC government wants out of the electric utility business and specifically the nuclear power business (VC Summer 2+3). SO will complete Vogtle 3+4 in the next couple years. NEE will spin off VC Summer 2+3 or at least make a mutual deal with SO because Vogtle 3+4 and VC Summer 2+3 are identical nuclear units. Of the two companies, NEE and SO, the better gain will be with SO.
LOL, SO surprise, surprise surprise.
Short squeeze time folks. Going up!!!
I’m VERY BEARISH ??????????
$SO ??????Southern currently has a consensus price target of $53.89, suggesting a potential downside of 9.82%. Dominion Energy has a consensus price target of $79.27, suggesting a potential upside of 3.49%. Watching for PULLBACK $SO Bearish??
$SO Southern Co $SO CEO Sells $116,560.00 in Stock ... If you boys want to keep buying while the CEO and insiders are selling, more power to you! NOT ME! This is one of my favorite indicators thestockobserver.com/?p=2285721 #markets Bearish
Prediction: as Vogtle 3+4 are nearing completion in 2021 + 2022, there will be a conditional memorandum of understanding to buy the cancelled VC Summer 2+3 from the state of South Carolina.
It looks like Dominion Energy will make a deal with SC to manage the state owned electric utility, Santee Cooper.
Why did the President/ CEO sell almost $700K of stock last week?
I think this at or near the bottom.
Im hoping to have gotten in at a bottom for SO - BOL
DO YOUR OWN DD
Below 42 I am out.
I went in for 500 today-
Only reservation -was it dumb to buy this at the beginning of hurricane season?
SO excellent hold-type stock.
MY OWN OPINION DO YOUR OWN DD!
Yeah it is, but the stock just keeps dropping. Imagine running into you here. LOL GLTU I own it. In the red chart says 42 ish is the bottom. The vogtle plant is giving them a headache. Nuclear DELAY DELAY DELAY kinda like the FDA. LOL Safety first though.
Well, CEO recently bought over 123,000 shares north of 44, so that tells me a lot. Besides the Dividend there is good potential for a higher share price.
With the new dividend projection, isn’t the dividend equivalent to more like a 7.4% annual dividend???
Same here, take this divi all day long.
Nope. I'm buying here. Easy decision.
I understand that we are in a rising interest rate environment, but the plunge in share price here seems to be a little bit severe in anticipation of that. SO is now above 5% dividend. CD's have a long way to go to catch that, and it will be awhile for bonds to safely pay that level. Is anything else going on to account for this sell off?
So you're saying one or both of the Presidents did something wrong? Don't listen too much or take too serious the news media.
Meanwhile, is SC Governor McMaster serious that DUK, SO, and D are in negotiations to buy Santee Cooper?
$SO CEOs face "false choice" on engaging with Trump, Southern Co. CEO says
The notion that corporate CEOs cannot engage with Pres. Trump on crafting economic policies even while disagreeing with him is "a false choice," Southern Co. (SO -0.1%) CEO Tom Fanning tells CNBC.
"You can certainly look at the events in Charlottesville and say that was awful... At the same time, [CEOs] can remain engaged in the big issues of the day and make sure business plays an appropriate role - action not rhetoric - to make America better, to drive the economy forward," Fanning argues.
"I don't engage on the big, broad meetings" with the White House, Fanning says. "I engage in a smaller scale, private setting" on the issues important to the company.
Meanwhile, 3M (MMM +0.4%) CEO Inge Thulin is the latest to resign from Trump's manufacturing council following the president's reaction to the conflict in Charlottesville, Va.
$SO Southern rises after Q2 beat; says Vogtle nuclear project tab rises to $25B
Southern Co. (SO +2.3%) after posting better than expected adjusted Q2 earnings and revenues; on an unadjusted basis, SO recorded a $1.38B loss, almost entirely due to a $2.8B pre-tax charge the company took related to the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to build the Kemper clean coal power plant in Mississippi.
Additionally, SO discloses it will cost at least $25.2B to complete the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia, raising new questions about whether the sole remaining nuclear facility under construction in the U.S. will get built.
The report of the escalating expenses, which have nearly doubled over the past nine years, comes two days after SCANA Corp. abandoned a similar project in South Carolina that also followed years of delays and rising costs.
$SO Southern Co. can overcome two problem projects, analysts say
Southern Co. (NYSE:SO) can withstand two big projects with problems - the behind schedule and overbudget Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia, and the failed effort to run the Kemper County project in Mississippi on "clean coal" - Moody's associate managing director Mike Haggarty says.
Noting that SO has several other utilities in various parts of the U.S., Haggarty says the company is "a big diverse organization, so they have been able to withstand the adverse developments at two of their utilities, but clearly it's a concern to investors.”
It's not SO's fault that low natural gas prices have made the projects, which were meant to be innovative, less competitive, says ClearView Energy Partners director of research Christine Tezak.
“If natural gas prices had gone to $8 and stayed there, these projects would look so much more economically sensible... at $3 to $4 gas, the landscape is different," Tezak says.
Southern Co., Finland's Wärtsilä to develop two large U.S. gas power plants
Finland-based power generation technology provider Wärtsilä signs an MoU with Southern Co. (SO -0.4%) to develop two flexible gas power plant projects in the U.S., which SO says could be as large as 450 MW each; financial information is not disclosed.
SO will be responsible for the project development, while Wärtsilä will offer technical and commercial support.
Wärtsilä's global installed power plant base totals 63 GW in 176 countries.
Southern's Kemper County energy facility not yet fully operational?
Southern Co.'s (SO +0.3%) Mississippi Power says its Kemper County energy facility is still not yet fully operational, as it continues to assess the project's schedule and cost.
The plant is three years behind the originally scheduled May 2014 completion, and what was estimated to be a $2.9B project when construction began in 2010 has ballooned to $7.3B, with costs rising by millions of dollars every month.
Mississippi Power says it will file a rate case on Monday with the state's Public Service Commission, laying out its argument for raising customer rates to recover those costs.
Southern seeking $3.7B from Toshiba to complete Georgia nuclear plant
Southern (SO +0.4%) CEO Thomas Fanning says the company will need $3.7B and cooperation from Toshiba (OTCPK:TOSBF) to complete the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia that was being built by the bankrupt Westinghouse unit, and even then he is not certain it can finish the half-built reactors.
“We are working with Toshiba to receive complete assurance as to the $3.7B guarantee that they owe us, whether we finish the project or not,” Fanning tells WSJ.
Fanning says he expects to conclude negotiations with Toshiba in the next couple of weeks; SO has agreed only to continue paying for construction through May 12, but the deadline could be extended.
But Fanning makes clear that even if Toshiba agrees to pay the $3.7B, SO still has not decided whether it would finish building the plant; he says a recommendation will depend on ongoing negotiations with Toshiba and an assessment of how much time and money it will take to finish the project.
Southern pushes Kemper startup date to end of May
Southern Co. (SO -0.2%) and Mississippi Power disclose another delay for the in-service date of the Kemper County clean coal plant, saying they now expect to have the plant running at full capacity by the end of May; the delay adds $38M to the power plant's price tag.
Also, SO and SCANA (SCG -0.3%) reached interim agreements with Westinghouse on Friday to continue construction on two nuclear plants as the developer works through bankruptcy proceedings.
SCG and Santee Cooper, South Carolina's state-owned utility, agreed to an extension that will see Westinghouse continue construction on the V.C. Summer nuclear plant through June 26; SO subsidiary Georgia Power also extended its construction agreement on the Vogtle nuclear plant, but only until May 12.
Southern’s Georgia Power concerned by Westinghouse bankruptcy loan
Southern Co. (SO +0.2%) subsidiary Georgia Power objects to Westinghouse Electric's proposed $800M bankruptcy loan, saying the financing could threaten construction of the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, one of the first new nuclear reactors scheduled to be built in the U.S. in decades.
Westinghouse has pledged intellectual property as collateral for the loan deal, and if the loan goes through as planned, the company's lenders would be in position to "foreclose on the intellectual property, which could seriously disrupt or even potentially halt construction," lawyers for Georgia Power say in a court filing.
Owners of the Vogtle plant have been paying $5.4M per week to continue construction under an agreement struck with Westinghouse before it filed for bankruptcy March 29, and Georgia Power is supposed to decide by tomorrow whether to extend the agreement.
Another new Westinghouse reactor, the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station, which is owned mostly by Scana (SCG +0.4%) subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas, also is being built.
Southern Co. CEO to ask Toshiba to help complete Georgia reactors
Southern Co. (SO) CEO Tom Fanning says he will ask Toshiba (OTCPK:TOSBF -1.5%) to honor what he says is a commitment to complete two nuclear reactors in Georgia after lead contractor Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy protection.
Ahead of talks with Toshiba and Japanese government officials today, Fanning tells WSJ that the Vogtle project has the support of the U.S. administration as a direct employer of 5K people and a creator of 30K jobs throughout the supply chain.
“The commitments are not just financial and operational, but there are moral commitments as well,” Fanning says.
Toshiba and its creditors likely will see it differently: Toshiba says it will honor ~¥650B ($5.9B) in Westinghouse obligations it had guaranteed, but that it plans to exit the business of building nuclear plants and does not expect further losses.
May depend on the election Nov 8th. But I have no idea at this point. Lets hope groping does not become legal LOL.
@Ecomike - What's the outlook for 2017 from where we are?
My SO shares have done quite well the last 12 months.