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

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The Southern Company’s (SO - Free Report) fully-owned subsidiary Georgia Power announced the implementation of the condenser vacuum test of the Vogtle Unit 3 turbine system.

Vogtle Unit 3 is one of the two new units at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, currently underway in the United States.

The condenser, which is part of the unit's turbine system, liquidizes steam for the purpose of reusing once it moves through the high- and low-pressure turbines to power a generator and produce electricity. In order to undergo the test, the process needed various systems, such as circulating water, condensate, auxiliary steam and condenser air removal to operate in an integrated manner after getting tested separately.

The vacuum test was performed with the turning gear placed on the main turbine and by running supporting systems to set up the condenser vacuum. Notably, this was a necessary measure to show that the steam supply and the water-cooling systems act jointly and stand ready to support the last crucial step — the hot functional test and initial loading of fuel in the reactor. The utility expects the latter to occur in April 2021.

The Vogtle expansion project — the nation's only nuclear power plant under construction — 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, the structural integrity test, and integrated leak rate test, as well as obtaining the unit’s first nuclear fuel shipment.

The nuclear expansion project is regarded as the largest employment-generating construction project in Georgia, which, once online, is expected to create more than 800 permanent jobs. The turbine will rotate at 1,800 revolutions per minute to power more than 500,000 homes and businesses.

The testing is considered another milestone for the Vogtle unit 3 and 4 nuclear expansion project toward its accomplishments and aims to offer customers a clean and non-carbon source of energy for the next 60 to 80 years. Notably, the latest units are crucial toward Georgia Power's aim to deliver clean and reliable energy for customers and uphold Southern Company's goal for net-zero emissions by 2050.

Company Profile & Price Performance

Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, Southern Company is one of the largest utility companies in the United States.

The utility’s shares have outperformed the industry in the past six months. Its stock has gained 8.6% compared with the industry’s 1.2% growth.



Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Southern Company currently carries a Zack Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked players in the utility space are California Water Supply Group (CWT - Free Report) , currently sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), and Pinnacle West Capital Corporation (PNW - Free Report) and Portland General Electric Company (POR - Free Report) , each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

In the past 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for California Water Supply’s 2020 earnings has been raised by 25.5%, while that for Pinnacle has been raised by 5.6%.

Portland General is expected to see an earnings rise of 67.5% in 2021.

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