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Southern Company (SO) Hits Major Milestone for Vogtle Unit 4

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The Southern Company’s (SO - Free Report) wholly-owned subsidiary, Georgia Power, achieved a milestone for Unit 4 at the Vogtle nuclear expansion project as it continues to progress through the testing phase.

Vogtle Unit 4 is one of Georgia Power’s new units at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, currently being developed in the United States. Notably, Georgia Power announced that plant equipment for Vogtle Unit 4 is permanently powered or energized at present, which is required for executing all upcoming testing for the two units.

The Vogtle nuclear expansion project suffered continued timing and cost overrun issues over the years. In May 2021, the project underwent a crucial series of testing at Plant Vogtle Unit 3 and revealed complications. Consequently, Georgia Power postponed the in-service date for Vogtle Unit 3 from November 2021 to January 2022.

Already running behind schedule, the nuclear expansion of Vogtle Unit 3 fell further behind the utility’s revised deadline as it encountered an unexpected array of quality issues, which could cost an additional $2 billion. Although work on Unit 3 is almost 100% complete, it is still exposed to risks of delays.

The Vogtle nuclear expansion project is regarded as the largest employment-generating construction project in Georgia, which will create more than 800 permanent jobs once online and power more than 500,000 homes and businesses. Despite all the difficulties, Plant Vogtle achieved several milestones in the construction of Unit 3 and 4.

In January 2021, the utility started the integrated flush at the Vogtle Unit 4 turbine system. The integrated flush is a testing process, which causes water to move through the plant’s permanent piping system and, as a result, flowing into the reactor vessel and reactor coolant loops. Notably, the integrated flush was a major step to help ensure the safe initiation of Unit 4 and marked the beginning of extensive testing for the unit's systems.

Above all, the two new units are crucial for Georgia Power's aim to deliver clean and reliable energy for customers. The utility aims to offer customers a clean and non-carbon source of energy for the next 60-80 years. Notably, the important development of the nation’s first nuclear power plant expansion is expected to ultimately lead to commissioning soon.

Company Profile

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

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Southern Company currently carries a Zack Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked players in the utility space are Entergy Corporation (ETR - Free Report) , NewJersey Resources Corporation (NJR - Free Report) and UGI Corporation (UGI - Free Report) , each currently carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Entergy’s earnings for 2021 are expected to rise 5.7% year over year.

NewJersey Resources’ earnings for 2021 are expected to increase 8.7% year over year.

UGI’s earnings for 2021 are expected to rise 8.2% year over year.

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