Back to top

Image: Shutterstock

Southern Company's (SO) Vogtle Unit 3 Reaches Milestone

Read MoreHide Full Article

The Southern Company’s (SO - Free Report) wholly-owned subsidiary Georgia Power obtained its first nuclear fuel shipment for Vogtle Unit 3, one of the two new units at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, currently underway in the United States.

The shipment represents significant progress for the Vogtle unit 3 and 4 nuclear expansion project toward its accomplishments and to offer customers a non-carbon source of energy that is likely to exert downward pressure on rates in the upcoming years.

Importantly, the construction of core infrastructure of unit 3 like the fuel vault and spent fuel pool needed to be completed and inspected to ensure that they lived up to the construction quality and design criteria to obtain the nuclear fuel.

The Vogtle expansion project — the nation's only nuclear power plant under construction — has suffered from continued timing and cost overrun issues over the years and was also affected by the need to downsize the workforce during the pandemic. However, during the course of 2020, plant Vogtle achieved several milestones in the construction of Unit 3, including the completion of cold hydro testing, closed vessel testing and open vessel testing as well as the structural integrity test and integrated leak rate test.

However, Georgia Power is yet to get through the hot functional testing at Unit 3, which is considered the last crucial step before fuel load and the new reactor is placed in service. The utility expects the fuel load for Unit 3 to occur in April 2021.

Vogtle 3 and 4 is regarded as the largest employment generating construction project in Georgia, which, once online, is expected to create more than 800 permanent jobs, and power more than 500,000 homes and businesses. Further, it is likely to have an immediate impact on fuel costs, i.e. price will drop when it becomes operative.

Notably, the new units play a crucial role in Georgia Power's aim to deliver safe, clean, reliable and cost-effective energy for customers and to support Southern Company's goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Company Profile & Price Performance

Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, Southern Company is one of the largest utility companies in the United States. Its shares have outperformed the industry in the past three months. The utility has gained 14.4% compared with the industry’s 5.8% growth.

 

 

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Southern Company currently carries a Zack Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked players in the utility space are Companhia Paranaense de Energia COPEL (ELP - Free Report) , currently sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), and Portland General Electric Company (POR - Free Report) and Otter Tail Corporation (OTTR - Free Report) , each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Over the past 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2020 earnings for COPEL has been raised by 85.2%.

Portland General is expected to see earnings growth of 67.5% in 2021, whereas Otter Tail is likely to see an earnings rise of 9.3% next year.

Looking for Stocks with Skyrocketing Upside?

Zacks has just released a Special Report on the booming investment opportunities of legal marijuana.

Ignited by referendums and legislation, this industry is expected to blast from an already robust $17.7 billion in 2019 to a staggering $73.6 billion by 2027. Early investors stand to make a killing, but you have to be ready to act and know just where to look.

See the pot stocks we're targeting >>