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Southern Company (SO) Plant Vogtle to Undergo Major Inspection

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The Southern Company’s SO wholly-owned subsidiary, Georgia Power, is developing two nuclear units at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in the United States. However, the intensive work to complete and commission the two units at Plant Vogtle is being examined by federal investigators due to issues relating to construction activities.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC”) of the United States initiated a special inspection at Plant Vogtle to determine the cause of the additional remediation work for the electrical cable raceway system at Vogtle Unit 3. Notably, the electrical cable raceway systems for commercial nuclear reactors are designed to prevent the disabling of unnecessary safety-related equipment.

In May 2021, the project underwent a crucial series of testing at Vogtle Unit 3 and revealed complications. Hence, the in-service date for the third unit was delayed because of a finding from additional construction remediation work to address the project-related issues. Moreover, the nuclear expansion of Vogtle Unit 3 fell further behind the utility’s revised deadline as it encountered an unexpected array of quality issues, resulting in millions of dollars as penalties.

During the inspection, the NRC will review the actions that were taken by the utility after problems, which led to the construction remediation work on the first new reactor, were found. This includes a review of their root cause investigation, corrective actions, construction quality assurance process and any possible effects for Vogtle Unit 4, the second reactor under construction.

Most importantly, the NRC said the remediation work on the electrical cable raceway system did not cause any risk to the public as there was no fuel in the plant. The NRC will not allow the licensee to load fuel and operate Vogtle Unit 3 until the construction is completed and complies with the conditions identified in their combined license. Notably, the review is expected to last two weeks and will record its findings and conclusions in a public report within 45 days of completion.

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. Notably, the two new units are crucial for the utility's aim to deliver clean and reliable energy for customers.

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 MGE Energy Inc. MGEE, NewJersey Resources Corporation NJR and RWE AG RWEOY, each currently carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

MGE Energy’s earnings for 2021 are expected to rise 11% year over year.

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

RWE’s earnings for 2021 are expected to rise 11.5% year over year.

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